Long live the book

The always provocative Jeff Jarvis declares that books is dead in his blog:
(book) they limit how knowledge can be found because they have to sit on a shelf under one address; there is only way way to get to it. They are expensive to produce. They depend on scarce shelf space. They depend on blockbuster economics. They can't afford to serve the real mass of niches. They are subject to gatekeepers' whims. They aren't searchable. They aren't linkable. They have no metadata. They carry no conversation. They are thrown out when there's no space for them anymore. Print is where words go to die.
But of course books are not dead, for most people, in most of their times. Here are my senses:
1) books are convenient. They are cheap, portable, easy to read (comparing with monitor). You can do anything with them, you have total control over them.
2) books are secure. Books are authentic. Books can't infected by virus, spammer, etc. They can't be modified, deleted, copied without physical trace.
3) books are part of our culture. Human have been reading books for a long time. People love the physics and psychology of holding book and read. It is easy to change technology, but it is hard to change humans habits.
Electronic media (blogs, etc.) and print books are simply two different media forms for our knowledge and thoughts. Staff in the electronic media are raw, rich, volatile, somewhat un-organized; staff in print books are more consistent, coherent, being a crystalline form of our thought. Both have pros and cons, and in my opinion, they will co-exist for a long, long time.


The future of books

By its very nature, blog is the media for niches - be personal view of the world, or be detailed full-coverage of a narrow products & services. Is this character makes blog a good candidate of published books? Apparently some people think so. Bob Young, CEO of Lulu.com ( a print-on-demand, self-publishing house) predicted that the future of books belongs to "niche-busters" -- books targeting a niche rather than mass market. He made this prediction after observing the life-expectancy of a bestselling novel has halved within the last decade.
The plummeting life-expectancy of a fiction bestseller, in my view, reflects the personalization trend of book reader’s tastes and interests. This is much like the general personalization trend of other products & services in the market place. For book publishing, as long as the cost of personalization continue to decline (electronic self-publishing) and selection/filtering technology (search engine) continue to improve, more and more of blogs will turn into books, and some will become niche-busters.