Summary: We need book publishing innovation to re-connect booklocked knowledge with readers. We will see the evolution of books into interconnected multimedia applications. Books will be focused on facilitating reader-user-action or reader-experience.
Entering an university library sometimes frustrates me. I see all this collected knowledge rotting away. Every once in a while a student wonders by and maybe takes a book.
I see how knowledged is “locked” inside of books as a form of “torniquet” on our knowledge-system. This information and knowledge is contained inside a silo we call “book”. I see the result of this problem manifesting itself in the limited knowledge and education in our societies, in the limited thought-models that we use to solve problems. I see this problem contributing to the rotting of the world-mind.
I believe that books today need to be interconnected. They need to be incorporated into our larger web of knowledge. This may seem to be in direct opposition to the revenue models of publishers but it doesn’t have to be.
Book publishers print about 6,000 books per run. They are usually lucky if they sell all of these books. If we factor in used bookstores the revenue stream to the publisher is probably cut in half.
In other words, great ideas get locked up in books to rot away for a finite amount of money. The value to the publisher has diminished greatly. But what about the other stakeholders – the readers that need information and knowledge?
Well, they may buy the used book at a cheaper price. But eventually the book is out of print and no longer anywhere to be found unless the publisher decides it is financially viable to reprint the book. The readers loose. So, if publishers have lost value and readers are loosing value what does this mean? It means we all loose, because of the current publishing business model. It means we are in desperate need of innovations here.
The centralization of knowledge under one agency is not an efficient solution. Digitizing books by one business may be a problem if the books are not also stored and made available by multiple websites. We need books online but we need them to be available via different sources under different business / access models. This is a precaution against business model changes, agency policy changes, political changes and any other censorship – whether it is intentional or as a result of interaction model dynamics.
Publishers need to open up their business models to allow books to be hosted on anyone’s server while still being able to benefit from their investment in the book. (the revenue model may be limited to a maximum – per book after which ammount the book automatically becomes free public domain).
Multi-agent interconnection of information is necessary.
We need search engine-term connectivity like we have today, but also connections based on author-specialist-experts recommendations and reader recommendations. We can’t rely solely on semantic search engine connections – this would limit the full potential of the knowledge network.
The next evolution of the book.
Books may also evolve into interconnected multimedia knowledge presentations. They will evolve to become non-linear. They may also evolve into incorporating tools that allow us to immediately put the knowledge to use. In other words books will evolve to become knowledge-use-tools.
The evolution of the book may look like this:
1. printed books (slowly evolving into on-demand printing)
2. interconnected digital books
3. interconnected multimedia books / presentation (video, interactive files, animations, animated diagrams, interactive charts).
4. interconnected multimedia expert systems applications. The book is incorporated, but it is designed to encourage immediate reader-user-action to be taken based on the knowledge and information contained in the book.
More innovations needed
For those that love the printed word we will need printing templates to allow users to print the book at home. (they may also have professional printing done by the publisher or by other competitors).
We may also need print support businesses that sell book-binding services or book-binding kits that are easy to use.
Recycling value should be incorporated into the business models here.