An interesting question, and one that surely will change over time. One thing we are certain about–it won’t be long until things have changed again.
Perhaps the most interesting question is not whether this new type of publishing–on demand, sans editors–will dominate, but whether we as a society will have long-term access to the information. A book is a tangible thing, paid for in tax dollars by everyone to be used by everyone. Libraries like Katz have long depended on inter-library loans to serve our students, faculty, staff and community–without ILL, we could never offer the millions of books that Maine readers check out every year. It’s a fact and a right built into the code of our civil society–information wants to be disseminated, and for the purposes of a democratic society, we want it to be accessible to everyone. Not just those who can afford it. So, what are libraries to do?
In Colorado, the public libraries and colleges have gotten together to draft a document about some of the pitfalls of publishing reader-specific books. No one wants any specific type of eReader to be put out of business–it’s just that our business, as a society, is to ensure that citizens continue to have access to all the books they pay for with their tax dollars.
In the end, it will all sort itself out–let’s just hope that we will all continue to have the same access no matter how we publish our books.