Print IS Dead (Well, To Some Of Us. OK: Me!)

Warren Ellis makes a case that he’s making a fine living from ink pressed onto paper. He also cites others doing the same.

This is true.

But only because The Thing has not yet appeared that will wipe all of that away.

The Thing could be the mythical iPod Air I’ve been bleating about for months now.

The Thing could be something no one has any idea is being developed right now.

The Thing could be a tree plague that makes paper prices tower over oil prices, thus forcing everything to move into eSpace.

The Thing could simply be the new way things are now working because of the Internet. I’d ask Ellis: Do you buy a daily printed newspaper? If not, why not? And don’t you see a trend inherent there?

For me, print is dead. Because I am old and cranky and sick of boxing, moving, and then unboxing books and books and books and books.

I have no emotional attachment to a printed object. At least not to any book object. It’s the words I want, not the stuff they’re being carried in.

Speaking of book objects, not one of them is even sacred. The Torah, the Bible, the Quran are all available in e versions. And once you’ve gone e with those, you never, ever want to go back to their p incarnations.

Ellis, at least, is working in a medium that is generally printed on X-sized paper. But what if it had always been done on Japanese Manga-sized paper? And in shades of gray instead of color? I suspect Sony Reader sales would have gone through the roof because it would have become the thing to read comics on. (There is some business in Manga on the Reader right now, though more needs to be done to develop that. As Paul Biba and Eleanor Randolph and I have pointed out, the entire Reader process is not painless.) This X-sized paper standard is also in effect in Ellis’s free webcomic, the wonderful FreakAngels. I’m certain that’s to accommodate a printed collection.

But what if Ellis had convinced his publisher (or himself) to do it differently, as a true e comic? In fact, with iPhone 3G sales still being a sales phenomenon, what if Ellis decided to pioneer a comics form for that device? (Right now FreakAngels is not amenable to tap-and-zoom per panel on an iPhone.) I think if he had done so, the sales might have convinced him that print is dead.

Previously here:

eBook Signings: The Postcard Solution?
Reference: Creating ePub Files For eBooks
Writer John Scalzi Gives An E Vs. P Lesson
Quote: Seth Godin
The Kindle Revolution Ain’t Happening
Sony Reader Gets Some Love
Suit Bastard Print Publishers NAILED!
Reference: 100 Book/eBook Sites
What A Major FAIL In eBooks Looks Like
Reading Books Plummets In Japan Too
Apple iTunes (Store) Trademark Evolution
The Reasons Why eBooks Are Next For Apple
And So The iPod Air Is Coming After All!
eBook On An iPhone: One Example
iPhone Wireless Printing?
Reference: iPhone/iPod Touch Screen Size
More Of That Non-Existent iPhone Effect
When An Expert Uses An iPhone
iPhone eBook Reader Stanza Available
Memo To Steve Jobs: iPhone Owners READ!
iDay 2008 + 1 = LONG Lines!!!
eReader On iPhone: What It Looks Like
Southern NYC iDay 2007 In 56 Photos!
Flashback: iPhone 2007
MSI Wind = Ten-Inch Screen MacBook?
Video: eBooks On iPhone/iPod Touch
What Apple Better Not Miss About eBooks
For God’s Sake, Get eBooks Going, Steve Jobs!
iPod Air: See You In September?
A Gadget Too Far
No iPod Air Next Week
American Tech Companies: Wake Up!
It’s Now All Down To Apple Vs. Google
Apple: You’ll Get It When You Can Sync It?
What eChanges Will High Oil Prices Bring?
Reference: iPhone/iPod Touch Backup/Sync
An Example Of iPhone/iPod Touch Keyboard Lag
The iPod Air Will Be Better …
I Said Apple Sync Was Important: Here’s Proof
eInk eBook Readers: They’re All Dead, Jim!
What’s This? iPod Air Next Month?
iPhone Continues To Swallow The Internet
Apple’s Sync Strategy Finally Arriving?
Now We Know Why Apple Bought A Chipmaker
Amazon: Already Toast
Future iPods: Piper Jaffray’s Blind Spot
Writers Don’t Fear The Future: Publishers Do!
The Lesson Of Apple Isn’t New, But It Works
The Three Companies Apple Should Acquire
Apple Has Magic The Others Don’t
Apple And eBooks: Why The Delay
For The Record: Apple and eBooks
Memo To Steve Jobs: People DO Still Read!
The Three Big As: Apple, Amazon, Adobe
Peak iPod: Has Apple Reached Its End?
One More Time: Apple And Ebooks
Is Apple’s Tablet The iPod Air?
Why Apple’s Design Is Excellent
Steve Jobs Is Up To Something. Probably Big.
Does Apple Want To Be King Of Ebooks?

Explore posts in the same categories: Books - Other, eBooks, Tech - Apple, Tech - Other, Tech - Sony, Writers - Living

4 Comments on “Print IS Dead (Well, To Some Of Us. OK: Me!)”

  1. FrancisT Says:

    Yep. But I’m not sure that it won’t be a more gradual thing. Print will decline and electrons will increase but we won’t see total replaement and even reaching 90% replacement is going to take years if not decades.

    Think about sailing ships. Theoretically the motorized propeller killed them stone dead except for frivolous luxury but when you look at modern fishing boats you see that a significant fraction still have sails. In the 19th century many working ships/boats kept their sails for a long time despite the improvements in steam power.

    However as with sail, print is likely to end up on the niches. Children’s books becuase they are less dangerous when dropped in the toilet, collectors, places where electricity is hard to come by and so on. Looking back at it I suspect people will say that the release of the Kindle/Cybook/illiad/Sony readers were the beginning of the end as people figure out how to get either eink or other low power screens at lower cost the reasons to not move to ebook readers will diminish. The question will be whether the publishers will have bitten the bullet at that point or not.

    If not then we’ll see RIAA like writhings as they attempt to bolt a stable door they have been warned about for the last 5 years at least.

  2. Warren Ellis Says:

    I buy a Sunday paper, the Observer.

    And why would I want an iPhone, when its connectivity is so much slower than my phone, and it uses Safari, which is shit (and one reason why FA looks shit on an iPhone)?

    Of course, the Japanese have been reading manga on phones for many years.

  3. Brad Brooks Says:

    Print will never die. End of story.

    Also, Warren Ellis is still full of shit.

  4. mikecane Says:

    >>>Print will never die. End of story.

    The same thing was said about stone by all those people carving into tablets.

    “Paper? Look at how temporary it is! You can piss on it and ruin it! Now, stone — stone can stand up to a good pissing!”


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