Re-posting a comment I made earlier on a guardian piece by Simon Jenkins titled Palms, Kindles, Nooks, iPads â€“ none are as cool as Gutenberg’s gadget because I don’t think it’s a war between formats.
My job is building websites, I build hundreds a year, I get most of my news and information from the web. I collaborate, communicate, create and share on the web. In short I love the web.
I also buy print books (from Amazon – who by the way had sales of $9.5bn last year), read print newspapers (as well as here on your website and via the iPhone app). In short I love print.
I also worked at a major publishing house for over 8 years working on websites (as well as print books) to enhance and support print textbooks (teaching materials, powerpoint slides, author blogs, learning objectives etc, sample material).
Now maybe I am an exception, but I feel this is such a tired argument, at each stage of technical development the newcomer did not destroy the incumbent. When photography came about it was said that painting would die, then we got the impressionists. When Cinema came out it would destroy theatre, when recorded music arrived, sheet music was for the chop (well this was quite dramatic), TV would destroy radio, VHS destroy Cinema. These developments exist in an ecosystem, each feeding and supporting one another – look at the increase in radio listening, most likely from internet listeners (I do not have figures to hand).
Now undoubtedly some of these industries have suffered at the arrival of the newcomer, however we have also seen innovation due to the new landscape. The impressionist example a good one, as much art had been quite representative up to that point – the advent of the photograph and it’s obvious ability to capture the real resulted in artists representing more emotive and perceptually different models of reality.
I could go on for far too long with examples of innovation in the face of change, much like the natural world – systems must evolve, there is no birth right to existence. The print media got comfortable and the fact that the majority of books/magazines sold now are celebrity tomes or celebrity news shows the lack of innovation in the market. The Guardian is an excellent example of innovation in the industry, allowing me for example to reply to your opinion, something I could not have done in the print equivalent.
These things are not mutually exclusive, print will live, just as radio, tv, cinema, theatre and painting does. However the people and the business models behind the print industries must innovate or then there really will be a problem. The opportunities the web offers are too much to pass by, print can be part of that. Infact print will be/is part of that (see POD / Lulu.com / The Newspaper Club).