I have been reading ‘Print is Dead – Books in our Digital Age,’ by Jeff Gomez and have now reached ‘Readers in a Digital Future.’ In this chapter Gomez begins to expound the possible future of the digital world for book readers. It is a world that abounds with possibility and an experience of reading that bibliophiles of the past could only dream of (if they could look passed the traditional book format). The book reading future will allow the reader to carry an entire library on a personalised device that can be accessed anywhere and at anytime, with the ability to interact with other digital sources of information and other readers from around the globe, to share insights and to communicate via chat and discussion functionality on book-based social networks, web applications and sites. The reader will also be able to store notes within the book that will be able to be edited and shared, to highlight text, search within a document or an entire library and even expand his/her own library seemingly endlessly. The possibilities and richness of the digital future for bibliophiles is incredible to think about and should be within our grasp.
As the digital future approaches I know it is a future I look forward to being able to grasp with both hands as a bibliophile. My traditional book library can expand no further – I have no more space for it to do so. However my digital library has already grown beyond the capability of a home twice my current size to hold and it continues to do so. Will I be able to read them all – probably not. But they will be entertainment, as well as tools, that I can use as I please and they will provide me with experiences as yet untold. The future of reading looks amazing as it continues to appear and unfold on the horizon and as the first rays of the digital era break forth upon us.
Of course, if ebooks are handled poorly by authors and publishers, the rich future of reading that could be, may not be. Many of the possibilities of a digital future could be squandered and Gomez warns us of this possibility. What a wasted opportunity should greed and jealousy stand in the way of a richer reading experience. The reading public also need to understand what it actually costs to produce an ebook and the ebook then needs to be priced fairly and be fairly accessible to the reader across all of their devices.