red bullet all things design

15 June 2010

Will the Printed Page Become Obsolete?

With the rise of the tablet electronic readers and tablet computers, one has to ask the question, “Will the printed page become obsolete?”  Will the magazines, newspapers and books of the future all be electronic?  Is that future just around the corner?

We are witnessing the proliferation of electronic readers like Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s PRX-700, Barns & Noble’s Nook and now Apple’s newest release, the tablet that is really a computer, the iPad.  Their main function (excluding the iPad) is to download books, magazines, newspapers and articles to be stored and read at the consumer’s leisure on small screen where one can enlarge the print, change the font and generally set parameters for optimal personal viewing.  Most are connected to the internet via WiFi or over the 3G wireless cell phone network allowing direct access to online bookstores where thousands of books, newspapers and magazines are digitally available.  And, all of these were formerly printed on paper.  While the cost of these e-readers is still rather high, envision a time in the near future when a bundle of subscriptions to your favorite magazines or newspapers comes with an e-reader.
The Kindle and now the larger Kindle DX are arguably the most successful of the e-readers for book and newspaper content.  Their direct connection to Amazon’s vast library of books and newspapers makes them uniquely situated in the e-reader market.  The only area that the Kindle and other e-readers fall down in is color.  Right now all e-readers except the iPad are grayscale displays and, while that is fine for books and newspapers, can you image viewing your favorite full color, high resolution magazine in basic black and white?  This could be where the iPad edges out the other others for today’s electronic ink display dominance.  More likely, the next generations of e-readers will be full high-resolution color so you can read your Vogue or People with all the impact of the printed magazine.  These displays are on every manufacturer’s drawing board and should be showing up in retail stores in the next couple
of years.

One added benefit to the proliferation of electronic readers is that less natural resources will be used to create the paper needed for the printed page.  On the other side of the coin is the print industry.  The costs for print and distributing print publications have soared and at the same time, advertising revenue and subscriber rates are dropping. Some newspapers and print magazines won’t be able to survive in the current economy.  As always with new technology, some industries will benefit, some will adapt and some will cease to exist.  Also with new technologies, if it works, someone will probably come up with something that does it better.  Such might be the case with the iPad versus e-readers.  Then again, in five years they both might be overshadowed by some new technology that does it all and does it better.

Will the printed page become obsolete?  I think it will, but, it won’t be for a while.  People still enjoy flipping the pages of their full color magazines or sitting on a beach enjoying a paperback book. 
When the technology advances to the point where it’s easy to carry a small e-reader device that delivers big reading pleasure, then, you can bet that the printed page will join the ranks of VHS tapes and vinyl albums.

‘til next time, take care.


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check this out

For those of you who remember Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, here is a Kindle cartoon for you...


E-readers were all the rage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas at the beginning of the year. Here is a website that will give you a breakdown of some of the newest technologies coming.

Here is Wikiopedia's take on the various e-readers and how they compare.

An interesting article on how the newspaper industry is hoping that e-readers will be the panacea to save it's dying industry.


A blog about Hearst's ill-fated attempt to design and produce an e-reader.


Here is a German site that is touting e-readers and the iPad as the saviour of the publishing world.



While this has little to do with the topic at hand, I thought you would enjoy this obituary recently printed in the London Times...

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.