As always, when Mike Shatzkin blogs, I read. And today he put out some thoughts on the future of publishing–the near future, just looking nine months down the line for the next Digital Book World conference. As usual, I think he’s got a really good grasp on the changes and challenges ahead, including territory restrictions for e-books, selling and marketing directly to consumers, and the decline of the brick and mortar stores.
He’s also bullish about something that’s yet to appeal to me, a staunch e-book reader: illustrated e-books. I love e-books–I buy at least one a week–and I love illustrated books of all sorts, from graphic novels to coffee table books. But I’m having a hard time imagining my favorite illustrated books living on my iPad. That’s not to say that I can’t imagine visually-oriented material doing well, things like the Elements app, for instance. And, I do think there’s going to be a lot of creative and interesting interactive e-books for kids. I just think I might have finally hit my own “but-what-about-the-smell-of-books” moment. I love my illustrated books! I love showing them off on my coffee table and bookshelves (and so many other surfaces around the apartment). I like paging through them when I have a free moment, just ’cause they’re there. Is it possible that I’m becoming a luddite?
No. I like my tech, and I like the attendant usefulness and ease of digital products. I’m sure I’ll find the illustrated e-book or book-like-product that will wow me to the point of purchase, and then I’ll start snapping up more of them. But there’s no way I’m trading in my The Making of the Empire Strikes Back.