The Future of the Book

Article excerpt

Byline: Ramin Setoodeh; With Jennie Yabroff

The transformation of the book industry has reached a tipping point. Electronic books now outsell paperbacks on Amazon, the retailer recently announced. And Borders, the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States, is reportedly considering a bankruptcy filing. With books evolving at warp speed, we polled some literary brains on the future of reading:

JUDITH REGAN, book editor and SiriusXM host: Books are going to get both longer and shorter. I think they will be more affordable. Books are pretty expensive. Publishers are so silly because they focus on "We're not going to be selling so many hardcover books at $26." Yeah, but you're going to sell infinitely more electronically, so what are you complaining about? I view it as a greater opportunity.

I just read Cleopatra; I read it on my iPad. I love my iPad. I'm marrying my iPad! It's great because I travel, and I don't want to carry a billion things with me.

DAVE EGGERS, author and founder of the publishing house McSweeney's: I don't own an e-reader, and I've never read a page on an e-reader. I do everything I can to avoid more screen time.

I don't think e-books have topped 10 percent of the market. My guess is that it will be about 15 to 20 percent of the market, because e-readers are expensive, and they'll continue to be expensive.

Not to diminish the value of a paperback, when it comes to somebody investing in a hardcover, it's something you want to keep. Everything from a cloth-case wrap to a leatherette to a foil-stamped cover, heavier paper, better binding, innovative cover design. You have to give readers a choice, between a richer experience with paper and board and cloth, and a more sterile experience through an electronic reader. …