Where Are Books Headed In The Next Five Years?

Book Photo 1

Where Are Books Headed In The Next Five Years?

Since the beginning of time, people have been sharing stories, anecdotes, myths, legends, and philosophized ideas. As a species we’ve thrived on the back of this ability to distribute information. To this day we long for gripping literature as one of our main outlets for entertainment.

In terms of form, however, our sharing of stories has changed and adapted alongside our societies over time. Today we are seeing yet another shift, as the internet once again revolutionizes the way we read. The next five years are set to see some drastic changes in terms of how we get our books.

The World of the Word

Early man heard stories shared through word of mouth. They were simple anecdotes told around campfires or to restless children. The years went on, and carvings on stone tablets were replaced by the scribes of Ancient Egypt who documented spiritual writings and the histories of great kings on sheets of papyrus. In the East, slates were replaced with a miraculous invention of paper in the year 1 AD.

This type of book spread all across the ancient world, with handwritten copies of some of the greatest early works finding popularity in this form. It wasn’t until the printing press was invented in 1440 that another really significant change occurred in the form of the printing press.

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Recent Advances

For the first time since the introduction of mass printing, we’re seeing a whole new shift in the way we enjoy books. Our online world has provided endless new possibilities for how we can read, and recent advances are sure to just be the beginning.

Although the audiobook has theoretically been around since Thomas Edison used his newly-invented phonograph to record spoken word, it didn’t really find its feet until the oncoming of the story tape in the 1970’s. Thanks to broadband technologies, sales of audiobooks then skyrocketed around the turn of the millennium. We now see sites such as Audible act as mass online distributors.

This same era saw the invention of the e-book, as Project Gutenberg was founded in 1971 with a sole dedication to digitalize cultural works. However, once again it was the introduction of the world wide web in the 1990s that shot the format to the common practice that we see today. Similarly, the release of Amazon’s Kindle in 2007 did a significant amount to market the format and make it available to the average consumer.


However, not everyone is happy with these changes, and many have voiced their concerns. Most romantically, people mourn the loss of feeling a real book in your hands, embarking on a journey from cover to cover and physically being able to leaf through pages. Practically, it’s also much harder to flick back through an eBook to find previously mentioned information. Similarly, the bookstore community environment is beginning to feel threatened, as online marketplaces allow readers to purchase books in seconds on their e-reader devices without ever leaving the house.

Another more immediately alarming problem that has been highlighted in recent years are the security holes in e-book devices putting your personal information at risk. Kindle and devices like it will often save card details for convenient purchasing, but that convenience means it’s easy for cybercriminals to access information. Although you can get around this by using a Virtual Private Network that works well with Kindle, it’s a problem that many feel needs to be properly addressed if we’re going to pursue reading in this format entirely.

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Whispers of Change

Although we may think that all the changes that could happen heave already occurred, this is not quite the case. There have already been whisperings of potential developments that could once again revolutionize the way we read. E-book subscription services such as Kindle unlimited or Scribd indicate the beginning of a whole new era in reading.

Often compared to Netflix except for books, these services act as an online library. They give us incredible access to hundreds of titles for a monthly fee. The days of whiling away the hours at the local public library have already long since passed for most people, so could this be the answer we’ve been looking for?

E-book subscription services have had a bumpy start, with many companies going bankrupt or having to dramatically edit what they offer after just a few months in existence. They were almost completely ruled out after industry giant Oyster went under, but rumors suggesting this was due to Google hiring their entire board of executives say otherwise. It’s quite possible we’re about to see the launch of one of the biggest e-book subscription catalogues in existence at some point in the next five years.

The Future of Reading

Yet what do all of these changes really mean for books? Many are suggesting that in the near future the traditional book format might become obsolete altogether. As even schools and colleges are migrating their materials onto a digital format, any necessity to have words on a page is being negated. Personally, I believe that there are too many die-hard paperback fans around to let this happen just yet, but be sure to watch this space.

Similarly, the shortened attention span of this generation could also be calling for a reduction in length of what we read. It’s possible the next five years will witness a rise in short stories over epic novels alongside other works that could be read in a few minutes.

There’s no denying that the way we read is changing, but we can do little more than speculate as to exactly how that will take form. If you have any more thoughts on this discussion, we’d love to hear your ideas. Please leave a comment below and keep this conversation going.

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About the Author: Cassie is an entertainment blogger for Culture Coverage. She has been a lover of books all her life and loves that the advent of the internet has made it easy to access great new stories. That being said, she’s not ready to see the end of the physical book just yet!

12 Responses to “Where Are Books Headed In The Next Five Years?”

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  1. I have had this discussion with many of my friends. I love my Kindle and carry it always. Have loads of books on it – past two months I have read 7 books – with no time to go to the store, library or even order books online. This is a savings of time for me – I would never have read those books otherwise. Since I blog about books, I have been given free books by authors to review; I am a Kindle Unlimited subscriber also. But many of my friends still need the touch of a “real” book and what it comes down to is choice….like we have many different types of people—-we have many different types of readers. But the thread that keeps us together is – our love of reading. Great blog, enjoyed it.

    • Create With Joy
      Twitter: CreateWithJoy1

      So glad you enjoyed the article Agnes! It’s always fascinating to me to learn how people prefer to read these days.
      You’re absolutely right though – the most important thing is that we love to read – that we continue to read – and that we have freedom of choice.

      Have a wonderful weekend and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  2. Michelle Miller
    Twitter: truebookaddict

    Frankly, I will be very sad if the print format becomes completely obsolete. I do have a Kindle and I read on it frequently, but I still much prefer holding a print edition in my hands. I guess that’s why I keep adding to my massive home library…that way I know I wil have print books at my fingertips for the rest of my life…and I can pass it on to my sons and grandchildren. 🙂

    Great article!

    • Create With Joy
      Twitter: CreateWithJoy1

      I, too, would be very sad if print books go away Michelle – for all of its merits, reading a book on Kindle is not the same as holding a “real” book in your hands!

      I always smile when I visit your blog and see the stacks of books you are collecting…

      Thanks for stopping by this weekend – glad you enjoyed the article! 🙂

  3. Mari says:

    Great share I love books! I don’t even use my Kindle which I thought was gonna be awesome but it wasn’t! I am all for preserving our books.

  4. Janet Kirk says:

    I did not want a Kindle, but my husband talked me into getting one. I have an early cheap version. The advantage to it is that I can get tons of free books. I follow a blog that lists each day, books on Kindle that are free. Also since I review books on my blog, I am given lots of e-books free to review them. I can store a hundred books or more in less space than 1 book on my bookshelf.
    BUT my heart longs to hold a book in my hands, to mark pages to go back and read parts I loved, and when I am done, to give it to a friend or donate to the local library. I still get a few books in hardcover or paperback for free to review, and that is my preference. I still buy books online. I still read books from the library. I still wander through Barnes and Noble and buy a few books on sale. I will never fully give up reading a real book. I recently purchased a paperback of a book I enjoyed on Kindle, so I can look at it on my bookshelf. Somehow it is not mine, until it sits on my bookshelf!

    • Create With Joy
      Twitter: CreateWithJoy1

      That’s what I had Janet! What I liked about it was the portability and the space-saving capability – but I found that in the small black and white size, by the time I set the font to the size I wanted it, it was hard to read (I was constantly scrolling which hurt my hands and wrists and made reading aggravating) – plus the screen was not backlit which also made it difficult for me to see!

      I have a tablet that I tried reading on but my tablet is quirky and it frequently shorts out – again making it difficult to read!

      So, for now, as long as they are available, I prefer print books – and I’ve actually discovered I like audio books as long as the narrator is decent – with e-books trailing on my personal list of reading preferences due to the technical difficulties I’ve had – but they are great on the budget and perfect for those of us who are space-challenged! 🙂

  5. I worked in used books for many years, and love books. I resisted ebooks for a long time, but once my child was born I became a convert. Not only was my place saved, but I only had to keep up with my Kindle instead of each book I was reading. Now I really prefer it to physical books.
    BUT, my library’s selection of ebooks is frustrating…not nearly as wide as their selection of physical books and they don’t carry a lot of my favorite authors in either format. The eb0ok services don’t either. So reading exclusively ebooks gets expensive if I’m not careful and cautious.

    I’ve also noted that while there are kids ebooks, my daughter much prefers physical books. Maybe that’s because she’s 6, but picture books don’t seem to be going away any time soon. While she has more computer programs than textbooks at school, she still likes to curl up in a lap with a book and the process of physically picking out books at the library or school book store. That doesn’t seem to be replicated with an e-reader or computer. The fact that the kids are still oriented toward physical books probably means they’ll hold on a bit longer.

  6. very scary I love my books will never give them up don’t even own a kindle but might end up getting one because they can lighten and enlarge the print having trouble with my eyes and that’s the only way I’d do it

  7. When I first got a Kindle I read it for hours & hours.
    Now I have basically gone back to print.
    I love turning the pages, that physical touch!

  8. Mary Hill
    Twitter: MaryHill16

    Really interesting points. I enjoy reading both ways, on my Kindle and with an actual book. I do notice though, that I have gone to the library less often because I can borrow digital books for my Kindle. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup.

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