According to GMN and Amazon, e-books now regularly out sell print books (on Amazon). Many of the concerned voices in my head have been demanding my opinion on this, and here I was feeling good about print books this week! At his reading, Dan Clowes made a compelling case for the continuing relevance of books. He conjectured how that, if books had been invented after computers, people would have been pretty excited about them.
But of course, I should have been listening to Ben Bova this whole time, and his 1989 classic, Cyberbooks.
From the back...
THE BOOK THAT YOU HOLD IN YOUR HANDS HAS BECOME OBSOLETE.
"Now wait a minute," said Ralph Malzone."You mean..."
"No paper!" Carl exulted. "You don't have to chop down trees and make paper and haul tons of the stuff to the printing presses and then haul the printed books to the stores. You move electrons and photons instead of paper. It's cheap and efficient."
For a long time Malzone said nothing. Then he sighed a very heavy sigh. "You're saying that a publisher won't need printers, paper, ink, wholesalers, route salesman, district managers, truck drivers—not even booksellers?"
"The whole thing can be done electronically," Carl enthused. "Shop for book by TV. Buy them over the phone. Transmit them anywhere on Earth almost instantaneously, straight to the consumer."
Malzone glanced around the shadows of the room uneasily. In a near whisper he told Carl, "Jesus Christ, kid, you're going to get both of us killed."