And I have absolutely no idea how this will turn out.
On one hand, I absolutely cannot envision a world where books are replaced by files. I recall feeling this way about music, which is why I'm hesitant to reject this change. The arguments have been made: books are more tactile and experiential than CDs, books are more varied in their collectibility, etc. Plus, the Kindle 2 costs $359!
On the other, there are advantages.
1) Immediate access to books and magazines. This, to me, was the great advantage of iTunes. Why suffer the snooty glares of music store employees when you could download a full album in seconds?Looking over that list, it's difficult not to sense big changes ahead.
2) Reference. I'm assuming the Kindle has a search option, which would save time in looking up and quoting passages. If there was some way to move my entire book collection to my computer, that would be terrific.
3) Cost. Considering hardcovers go for upwards of $20, $9.99 is a hefty savings, and a number customers are used to paying for digital content.
4) Text books. Publishing as a whole doesn't quite touch the same level of screw-the-public mentality the major record labels had reached. Text book publishers are a different story. Elimination of the ridiculous company-store fees students were forced to fork over for "updated" editions would be a welcome perk. Text book publishers, I hope you're hearing your death knell.
5) Democratization. How will publishers look for talent in an age where printing costs are heavily diminished? Will the market be flooded with mediocrity? Will lessons be learned from the democratization of the music industry?
I predict a more measured transition. I don't think people will throw out their books like CDs, but it's impossible to disregard the advantages digital reading will bring. Here's hoping publishing companies are better prepared than major record labels, and here's hoping they embrace the revolution, just not too much.