Future of the Book?

Today I was asked to generate some provocative statements and questions pertaining to eBooks and the future of reading; I thought I should share them here  as well. This is a very hot topic right now and one in which technologies and behaviors are changing quickly. I’m an interaction designer, and I’m excited by new ways of engaging with things, but my personal stance is also one of critique and skepticism. I’m always interested in teasing out what value has been gained or lost rather than instantly and wholeheartedly embracing technology-led change.

To that end, here were my provocations. Many could be interpreted as a negative statement about eBooks, but also reveal potential opportunities for design in this very young medium.

“What are the cornerstones of the reading experience that we want to preserve, no matter what the format?”

”Why should I buy an eBook when it has no (monetary) value as soon as I buy it?”

“What is the role of a local book store as a reseller of eBooks?”

“Can I get a download code for the eBook when I purchase a physical book, the way I can for MP3s when I buy a vinyl record?”

“As an author, how do I sign a reader’s eBook when they come to my reading at a bookstore?”

“When I’m done reading a great book I like to pass it along to a friend. Can I do that with an eBook?”

“I can’t open any of the documents that I created 10 years ago because I don’t have the programs anymore. Is this going to happen to my library as well?”

“My apartment would look really empty if I didn’t have bookshelves full of books.”

“I look at a screen all day, I read books to relax when I’m sick of fighting with technology.”