Friday, March 26, 2010

If Video Killed the Radio Star, Will the iPad Kill the Printed Book?

Yesterday morning one of my 6th grade advisory students asked me what the next big thing in technology would be. I just happened to have my latest issue of MacWorld sitting on my desk with a picture of the iPad on it claiming it to be a "revolutionary" tablet. I boldly replied to her question that the iPad is the most exciting thing coming out and that it would be out in just over a week.

As I was talking about the iPad one of my favorite trivia questions popped into my head. The question is what is the first music video ever shown on MTV? Of course in my discussion with these 11 year olds I had to teach them about the fact that MTV originally showed music videos all day as opposed to the reality mix they show today. Of course these students also thought that MTV had just been around "forever" since it launched in 1981 and they were born in 1998 (feeling really old now?). The answer to the trivia question of course is the song "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. Enjoy the music video.

Now my students were really confused... so I started to tell them my thoughts on the iPad and how I feel it will affect print media. I have thought for a long time that I would never see the end of the printed book in my lifetime. I have always felt it would be something that my children would see but not me. The release of the iPad is a huge step towards the death of the printed book and makes me think I just might see this in my lifetime now. People have gotten used to the idea of carrying their music around with them wherever they go. They will soon be able to do the same with their book collections using the iPad. Unlike my collection of books that fill the bookshelves in my home and a shelf at work I could have all my books together and most importantly searchable as they are digital. This device will revolutionize how people interact with the written word.

I know that many people are in love with the concept of curling up with a good book and the tactile joy of holding it in your hands. I've also been told that the smell of a book is another alluring feature. I personally feel that people will get over these issues and find the convenience of electronic books much more powerful. The other issue will become the economics of electronic books. As more and more people engage in the purchasing of electronic books the prices will fall. The expense of printed books will not allow publishers to make enough profits and force them to cease printing books to remain solvent.

My only question as I think about this is why will we need publishers when anyone can publish? How will the removal of print books democratize publishing. This is not that dissimilar to the music industry and independent bands. What are your thoughts?


Charlotte said...

Well, video may have maimed the radio star, but witness talk radio heroes and their huge impact nationally (uniting people in causes), for better or for worse.
How about if we go with the iPad will change the world of the printed book, but not kill it (hum a few bars...pretty catchy, eh?)

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