If books and other printed material someday go away, what will our public library system become?This question came up in our dinner conversation last night as I read (on my phone) that a major paperback publisher just announced it will become a digital publisher only. The Wall Street Journal says Dorchester Publishing Inc. is moving to an all-digital model and will offer new titles (it puts out 25-30 a month) in digital formats and offer print-on-demand only. Industry watchers predict that digital books will make up as much as 25% of the market by the end of 2012 (it’s about 8% today). Dorchester says after working hard last year at their book and magazine publishing business, book sales fell by 25 percent due in part to declining orders from major retail outlets, including Wal-Mart.
Our local library supporters note in their latest blog post that John Wiley & Sons, the publishers, now offer an extensive online library of their large collection of journals and other publications.So, if this is an indication of the future, what will happen to those buildings we call libraries?