A Dying Read: An Obit for E-Readers

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

–Yogi Berra

In the last century, it was said that there are pipes companies and content companies, companies that produce information and entertainment and those that transmit them. As we become a wireless world, the pipes are being replaced by air.

Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy predicts that ebook sales, now 8 percent of S&S’s business, may be as high as 40 percent in three to five years. It’s been predicted that in ten years, ebooks will be 75 percent of the business. These predictions may be right, but they may not come true with e-readers.

On a Media Post blog, Aaron Shapiro predicts that in five years, e-readers will be the Rubik’s Cube of 2010. A partner in a technology company called Huge, Shapiro thinks that e-readers will go the way of previous one-use devices such as calculators, Palm Pilots, dedicated word processors, and fax machines. Other: ”likely doomed technologies: digital cameras, digital video recorders, digital audio recorders, handheld gaming devices, automotive GPS systems, televisions, portable DVD players, and even the iPod. All you’ll need is a screen for your hand, a screen for your lap, and a screen for your wall.”  

In the age of all media all the time, the consolidation of information, entertainment, and communication into one device, or as Shapiro suggests, three synced screens, is inevitable–four, if you count your car. Some people are already abandoning laptops as well as land lines for smartphones. For Shapiro, the introduction of the iPad marks the beginning of the end for e-readers. Like the smartphone, the iPad will be a miniature desktop.

It’s been said that the only way to predict the future is to create it. As a writer, you can help shape the future with your writing. From free to fee, from tweets to books, people will continue to want information and entertainment. Consumers will decide how they want to receive them. Whatever devices emerge–and implants are coming–it’s up to you to provide content that will keep your readers coming back for more. If you succeed, predicting your future will be easy.

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