Having written many articles since my initial Trend VS Fad post I am happy to say that one idea is firmly entrenched in my mind, that Books and Publishers and the Web are now firmly and symbiotically locked together. The relationship has yet to resolve itself into a fully matured one but there can be no doubt that the book/Web convergence is a trend not a fad.
Before anyone jumps on me and says: “Well of course it is. How stupid do you have to be to doubt that?” I say nothing is inevitable. There are many reasons Publishers might resist the Web and some still do. Readers still feel threatened by the Web and online content and most companies are unsure how to react and interact with the network and their own customers.
Books as we know them will remain, possibly as the expensive niche product that they once were, but I feel sure that over time (and whether we want them or not) new types of Books will emerge that marry the certainties of paper with the potential of the network.
The Web and Online Books offer enormous benefits to everyone but as I discussed yesterday these benefits may not necessarily accrue to Book Publishers. Indeed new and dangerous competitors could emerge. Some we may not even have thought of yet.
It may well be that venerable names will cease to trade as they get their online strategy hopelessly wrong or invest too much in a technology before its time is due or even simply by being unfortunately un-hip.
But I can see no escape for publishers, I can see no other avenue for books and the web will be enormously enriched by the changing of attitudes this trend will enforce. As we grow used to the idea of Wikipedia and the web offering quality content, online books will support and indeed raise the expectation that online information is as good as that found in a book. Instead of being an almost forgotten section of a bibliography the web links consulted will become the primary and books the secondary.
There is no escape. It will happen. All that remains is the excitement of how, when, why, who and of course the winners and losers.