Clive Thompson on the Future of Printed Books

Wired – “Will the ebook kill off the print book?” Every time I hear that question, I think about the “paperless office.” Back in the ’80s, the rise of word processors and e-mail convinced a lot of people that paper would vanish. Why print anything when you could simply squirt documents around electronically? We all know how that turned out. Paper use exploded; indeed, firms that adopted e-mail used 40 percent more paper. That’s because even in a world of screens, paper offers unique ways to organize and share your thoughts, as Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper noted in The Myth of the Paperless Office. There’s also this technology truism to consider: When you make something easier to do, people do more of it. Now that every office worker has access to a computer and a printer, every office worker can design and distribute elaborate multicolor birthday flyers and spiral-bound presentations.”

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