We must have a ton of paper in our house in the form of books. Some great literature, my wife’s degree materials, the libraries for my hobbies such as SCUBA diving and wine, a mountain of travel books and so on. Pulped trees are an enormously inefficient method to store and transport all this information. If it was transferred to silicon or to rotating memory I could carry the whole lot around in my pocket.
Which brings us to the current explosion in the use of electronic books. Most notably the Amazon Kindle (which holds 1,500 or 3,500 books) and the Sony Reader (which can store up to 13,000 books). These devices rely upon ultra low energy electronics, especially in their “paper” displays which only use a tiny fraction of the power of a traditional LCD display. And they work just like books, the content is the same and it is presented in the same manner. So they are making the old fashioned books made from trees obsolete.
These electronic books are an interim technology. Soon we are moving, en masse, to having electronic tablet devices in our lives. These tablets are a combination of netbook and smartphone. They are “always on” devices and they are Swiss army knife devices, designed to do as many tasks as possible that we might need in our lives. Watch television or a movie, surf the interweb, do some office or school work, talk to a friend, shoot some video, listen to some music and so much more.
Electronic tablets are only possible because of the introduction of new OLED display technology that uses very little power and which put the source of the display very near the front surface of the screen. So they can be made to work just like the “paper” in the current electronic books. So being a book reader will be yet another task that tablets will be used for.
Of course once people are using tablets for books a whole new world of possibilities opens up. A revolution in fact. Books can become interactive, non linear and connected. In fact books can start to take on many of the characteristics of a video game. And this will inevitably happen, slowly at first, but the possibilities are too great for it not to. It is just more of the ongoing convergence between new media and old media. And what applies to books applies to magazines and newspapers too, in fact anything that was historically printed on pulped trees.