Negroponte is Wrong: BOOKS ARE NOT DEAD

Via TechCrunch: (apologies, because TechCrunch seems to have issues linking to the full article).

The physical book is dead, according to Negroponte. He said he realizes that’s going to be hard for a lot of people to accept. But you just have to think about film and music. In the 1980s, the writing was on the wall for physical film was going to die, even though companies like Kodak were in denial. He then asked people to think about their youth with music. It was all physical then. Now everything has changed.

I think this is bogus. Here’s why: people still buy CDs.

Guess what? It’s true! People still buy CDs. TEN YEARS after Napster. Ten years after it became so easy to download music, people still buy CDs.

I work in a Bookstore. We have a CD section. It’s shrunk since I’ve been there, but we still have it, and people still buy CDs.

There are two possibilities:

1. There’s still a market for hardcopies of digital content.
2. Most people buying CDs are old enough that they may be too set in their ways to look into MP3 players and computers.

I think #1 is more apt, because, guess what? We sell vinyl records, too.

Long story short: books aren’t going anywhere. I don’t think Nicholas Negroponte knows what he’s talking about. It’s true that bookstores are in trouble, and in five years, the Bookstore I work for may well have locked up its doors and gone out of business. It’s true that one publisher announced today they were discontinuing book publishing in favor of ePublishing …

… but I still think if people are willing to buy CDs ten years after Napster, there will still be a market place for physical copies of books. Maybe it’s just because there’s nothing at all quite like the feel of a solid paperback in your hand.


AlexPriest reports via Twitter that the full article clarifies that Negroponte believes most book sales will be in eFormat, but that physical books will still exist. I believe this is probably the case, but reject whole-heartedly the notion that physical books are dead. How lonely would a library be without stacks of books? VERY.

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