As we get closer to November and the YALSA Symposium, I’ve been thinking more and more about the future of the book and where that will put us librarians in the grand scheme of things. I know that when I was in Library School this was a common topic of discussion and I always blew it off saying “never gonna happen.” People kept telling me that the book was going to be replaced by some form of technology and I never believed it. There is something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages that sticks with you. But with all the technology out there today it could happen. Things could change. The book could be the next cassette tape.
So while I was thinking about all this, my library started circulating e-readers. Within a day of them being in the catalog, there was a hold list on all 18 different types of e-readers at four different locations. That’s 59 e-readers with holds already on them in less then a day. Granted, many of our patrons are in low income situations and can’t afford a lot of extras, but this amazed me. The technology is here.
I started thinking back to when e-readers first started coming out and my library started offering e-books to download. I realized that more and more people have come in asking for help downloading books onto their e-readers. When I talk to my teens about their thoughts on e-readers, they tell me they prefer “real books.” But the strange thing is that it’s been a few months and most of the holds have gone down to a few people on each of our e-readers, but there is one that still has over 20 people waiting on it, and that is the one with all the teen titles on it.
This week Kate McNair tells me about this panel on http://www.goodreads.com/ called The Future of the Book: A SXSW Panel (you can vote for it here if you want to help them gain support for it). It discusses how publishing really isn’t what it used to be. Publishers could be out of jobs because anyone can push a button and publish a book nowadays. Sites like http://netminds.com/ give literary talents a place to publish socially. This thought got me started thinking about the hoopla for Fifty Shades of Grey and how it all started as Fan Fiction online.
The Panel blurb goes on and Chris Brogan brought up some interesting ideas about where books are heading, “Books as apps. Books as places. Location based books.” The authors of this panel asked their Goodreads fans, “Will reading become more of a social experience?”, and this brought up some interesting comments.
I have to hope that the book will still be around 100 years from now, but with technology going the way it has, I really have to wonder. Will our smart phones be our books in the future? Will reading become more social than it is now? Will people be plugged in like the kids in Feed by M.T. Anderson? Where do you think the book is headed?
Don’t forget, we have a few programs that relate to this topic this year.
• Social Reading: Inside the Ebook Book Discussions with Linda Braun
• When a Book Is More than Paper: Transmedia Trends in Young Adult Literature with Jackie Parker and Rachel McDonald