I have been reading designobserver. Apparently we are currently publishing a book every 30 seconds - which means that by 2052 there will be more people writing and publishing books than people reading them. This poses interesting challenges for publishers and authors.
Alice Twemlow asks:
Why keep on with the work of traditional publishing when the Internet would seem to provide a much more efficient means for reaching the people? What is is about the book, pamphlet and magazine formats that continue to lure publishers onto the rocks of insolvency?
Perhaps it's the level of control that books afford. They are created from the top down: completed and finessed before their release, they provide few entry points for unpredictable reader contributions. Books are statements, serene and imperturbable.
This issue of control and sense of completion is interesting, particularly when contrasted against the more fluid and eternally incomplete nature of many digital texts. Different technologies, different social purposes, different functions.
Flickr photo 'Pile of books' by hawkexpress.