Books have played an enormous role in the advancement of human civilisation. They allowed our ancestors to record and accumulate their knowledge, building upon it generation after generation. This combined knowledge would eventually culminate in most of the modern technologies that we often take for granted today, but at one point would have been seen as real alchemy.
The world is changing, and more and more people believe that we’re turning away from physical media altogether, and that physical books will come to an end within the next few decades.
One of the main reasons that physical book sales are suffering around the world is due to the rise of online, digital libraries, such as those offered by Amazon. Jeff Bezos was one of the first people to truly see the value of selling books over the internet, and it was this foresight that allowed him to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.
Since then, Amazon has come to dominate the ebook market, and almost every book under the sun is sold by Amazon. Amazon’s books can be read through their Kindle software, creating a simple and user-friendly ecosystem that anyone can use, regardless of how tech savvy they are.
The housing market has completely turned upside down in the last three decades, and people are struggling to afford housing, let alone housing that has enough space to build a library of any sort. Physical libraries are impractical and expensive, and for anyone that might want to move somewhere new or travel, having a large collection of physical books can be an extreme burden.
It’s significantly easier to have all our favourite books available on the cloud instead, giving us the ability to access them anywhere and at any time. There are also a lot of ebook resellers out there that sell books in DRM-free .epub format, meaning that they can be downloaded and backed up as many times as the owner wants. This kind of long-term storage both locally and on the cloud completely negates the argument that ebooks can simply vanish into thin air if companies like Amazon stop existing suddenly.
Cost might have the biggest impact on the overall demise of physical books, the same way that it has impacted other types of physical media. It’s simply cheaper to create a book using a computer and publish that book as an ebook rather than having to have it printed by a publishing company.
Removing the cost of the materials and often the middleman means that the ebooks can often be sold at a fraction of the cost of their physical counterparts, meaning more money for the consumer for rent, groceries, games, or Australian open tennis betting. Many might also argue that the impact on the environment is also lessened greatly, as it means that no trees will need to be cut down to get the materials to create the physical book.