From Papyrus To Pixels

“From Papyrus to Pixels” is the title of a six-page essay on the future of the book, published in The Economist. It can be read either as a book or as a scroll. One could also listen to it being narrated.

Here are some reasons that paper books aren’t going to go the way of the typewriter in the immediate future.

  1. The growth rate of e-books has recently slowed in many markets, including America and Britain. Sales of e-readers, the most popular of which is the Kindle, are in decline.
  2. A print book is competitive technology: it’s portable; hard to break; has high-resolution pages; and a long battery life.
  3. Unlike a CD, whose content can be extracted in a jiffy, converting a paper book to an e-file, page by page, is a nightmare. A book is therefore, far less likely to fall prey to piracy.
  4. The biggest change of the past decade is the decline of physical bookshops, not books. In 2013, around 1.4 million International Standard Book Numbers (or I.S.B.N.) were issued, up from around 8,100 in 1960.
  5. Before the 19th century, it was common for writers to publish themselves. In the later centuries, when publishing became a mass-market business, the self-published came to be seen as kooks or egotists, and were marginalized. Today, self publishing has made a comeback.



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