If the book trade has its way, “bitter clingers” will be clinging to their printed books in addition to their guns and their religion as digital books dominate the printing industry, prompting publishers to focus more on apps than on bound volumes.
Nicholas Calloway of coffee-table-book fame is quoted in a Reuters story posted at MSNBC as believing that books are dead. No more will the book industry be as concerned about paper and ink as it is in apps, as books take the leap from the bookshelf to the app store. Callaway believes that the way books can be animated and enhanced by the integration of digital technology in ways that can transform the meaning of a book from just an ordinary eBook to that of a content-rich portable application.
According to Calloway, civilization is on the brink of an important change that will represent a turning point in the way people view information, not just a passing fad.
Authors, publishers and bookstores around the globe are feeling the pressure of change. Rather than visiting a store, people now go to Amazon and they increasingly buy electronic books rather than order the printed versions of the books they want.
New platforms like the iPad and mobile Android-powered tablets offer even more opportunities for publishers to add content to their products, turning some books into fully interactive applications, by passing Amazon for online applications stores.
On top of that pattern is one where publishers are rapidly becoming irrelevant as authors publish their own works electronically, cutting out an expensive middleman.
Although known for the brilliant, beautiful volumes he has provided through the years, Calloway is firmly embracing the new trends that are redefining forever what we used to call a “book.” In fact, he says that the eBooks we now have – or even the books that are now apps – are just the tip of the iceberg of things to come. In fact, Calloway sees the day coming when book stores and eBook stores are completely replaced with a new medium that distributes works that bear no resemblance to what we now consider as being a book.
For his part, Calloway seems ready to tell stories using new ideas as demonstrated by a partnership with children’s author David Cook that turned a printed Miss Spider book series into an interactive phenomenon.
Calloway seems to believe that – to survive – publishers will change their way of doing business. Rather than insisting on owning every book Calloway says they should consider licensing material from authors much in the way authors deal with film makers.