Amazon’s New Tablet and the Future of Books

Today Amazon will debut their new tablet, the Kindle Fire.  My guess is that it’s going to be quite awesome, and that it’s going to be $100 less than and iPad.  Also, Amazon is likely going to throw in some goodies, like lifetime Amazon Prime with some versions.  That would be pretty awesome, too.

Jana Riess interviewed me about my new book and about my adventure in self-publishing for her blog, and she’ll post the interview next week.  I think I’ll follow up with some thoughts of my own on self-publishing and e-publishing next week.  But, in the meantime, the today’s announcement about the Kindle Fire has inspired John Biggs at Tech Crunch to prophecy a timeline of the future of books:

2013 – EBook sales surpass all other book sales, even used books. EMagazines begin cutting into paper magazine sales.
2014 – Publishers begin “subsidized” e-reader trials. Newspapers, magazines, and book publishers will attempt to create hardware lockins for their wares. They will fail.
2015 – The death of the Mom and Pops. Smaller book stores will use the real estate to sell coffee and Wi-Fi. Collectable bookstores will still exist in the margins.

2016 – Lifestyle magazines as well as most popular Conde Nast titles will go tablet-only.
2018 – The last Barnes & Noble store converts to a cafe and digital access point.
2019 – B&N and Amazon’s publishing arms – including self-pub – will dwarf all other publishing.
2019 – The great culling of the publishers. Smaller houses may survive but not many of them. The giants like Random House and Penguin will calve their smaller houses into e-only ventures. The last of the “publisher subsidized” tablet devices will falter.
2020 – Nearly every middle school to college student will have an e-reader. Textbooks will slowly disappear.
2023 – Epaper will make ereaders as thin as a few sheets of paper.
2025 – The transition is complete even in most of the developing world. The book is, at best, an artifact and at worst a nuisance. Book collections won’t disappear – hold-outs will exist and a subset of readers will still print books – but generally all publishing will exist digitally.

HT: Bob Carlton

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  • I own a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and would trade it for this despite the price difference. Full android > customized android.

  • He forgot to mention 2026, where books will find a new niche market as hipsters admire them for their “warmness, simplicity, and the overall tactile experience.”

  • Phil

    It’s actually $300 less than the iPad…

  • toddh

    I think Mr. Prophet is a little too hasty in predicting the death of the physical book. My hunch is that this medium is different than music or photos, but I’m not totally sure why. I just suspect there will be a sizable enough population that will love their physical books so that the 2025 prediction will never come to pass. However, I could easily see the 2020 death of textbooks happen, and would welcome it!

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