Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Digitalizing the World

Yesterday, I asked if books were destined to go the way of CDs. Will books be digitalized and downloaded via computers and e-readers? Years from now will kids look at books behind museum glass?

If you read newspapers, you might consider whether the same could happen to them. People already get a lot of their news via TV or online.

Jon Fine, in an article in BusinessWeek, wonders if The Writing is on the Wall (and on the Web).
I was still thinking news, though, so I asked Murdoch, the longtime newspaper guy, what he would do if he found himself owning a bunch of big-city newspapers. His first reaction: "I'd run." When pressed he said that papers had to adjust expectations--that 30% profit margins were shrinking to 10%, and some may not even survive. News Corp. withdrew a bid for Tribune's (TXA) Newsday, he said, because "I got scared." I was left thinking, good grief. If Rupert Murdoch is writing off a major segment of the American newspaper industry, it's truly time to shut off the lights.

It makes ya wonder if those of us who love books and newspapers and magazines will be forced to change – if by trying to hang onto paper, we’re fighting a losing battle.


  1. Hm, interesting follow-up to your previous post. I wonder about a couple of things:
    Some books, nonfiction primarily, seem to be best presented in print. Who wants to download an entire illustrated cookbook or photography book? Or do we only at the pages and never print them?

    More significantly, are we disenfranchising an entire segment of the population? I have a friend who is a 4th grade teacher in a poor district--none of her students have computers.

  2. Good points. I see what you mean about cookbooks. But, nonfiction, on the other hand, is actually the genre that seems to be really doing well in digital. College kids love having their textbooks in e-form. That seems to be one of the fastest growing areas for ebooks.

    And, yeah, we are leaving behind a big chunk of the population. It's already happening. I haven't even tried to figure out YouTube and MySpace. Hopefully, computers will become cheap enough that schools, even the poorer districts, will be able to afford them. They give schools in other needy countries computers for kids that cost a hundred dollars. It seems like we should do that for American kids.

    Don't get me started on what we as a country are NOT doing for our own poor!


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