Is the Printed Page Dead (or Just a Little Sick)?

Summary:Doc is a big believer in the power of print, but I do have to admit some print products are moving in new directions. That's why a recent article at the printing Website, What They Think, caught my eye. It's an interview with entrepreneur and writer Paul Hawken, best known as one of the founders of retailer Smith & Hawken, where Doc buys all his fancy gardening supplies and tasteful door wreaths.

Doc is a big believer in the power of print, but I do have to admit some print products are moving in new directions. That's why a recent article at the printing Website, What They Think, caught my eye. It's an interview with entrepreneur and writer Paul Hawken, best known as one of the founders of retailer Smith & Hawken, where Doc buys all his fancy gardening supplies and tasteful door wreaths.

The interview, by Gail Nickel-Kailing, took place at a sustainability conference in the Pacific Northwest. Hawken is the author or co-author of a number of books including The Next Economy, Growing a Business, The Ecology of Commerce, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, and Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming.

Here is a bit of the Q & A, which you can read at Whattheythink.com:

WTT: As an author, voracious reader, and book lover, what is your take on the future of books, newspapers and other publications?

Paul Hawken: They're going to go away completely. Pretty soon people won't be able to start their fires because there won't be any paper. I think paper is done. Aren't they worried about the e-reader? They should be.

In terms of 99% of what we read in books, magazines, and newspapers, I think print is over. When I started writing there were 30,000 titles a year published, now there are 170K+ titles published a year now. There is more drek out there; books that don't deserve to be published.

The same thing that happened to the music industry is happening to the publishing industry. I'm surprised there's not more noise in the industry. I can't believe they don't see the writing on the wall. I think it's over.

Having said that, paper isn't done for works of art, for books about art... We will need paper, we will need some books, we will need libraries, but libraries will change completely.

We won't lose rare books. I don't think we'll lose certain documents; libraries are keeping notes and speeches, keeping emails, and working on interesting ways to preserve digital information with technology that will make it readable for the long term.

Those kind of papers and documents will become much more valuable and valued. Things on paper will become really valuable, they will be unique.

Doc says, whoa! That's a pretty stark viewpoint, Paul.

Topics: CXO

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ZDNet introduces Doc (The DocuMentor), sponsored by RICOH. Through his blog, Doc will educate you about Document Management. So who is Doc? Doc is something of an enigma. He was born to a Russian ballerina and a German electrical engineer who some believe was running covert operations for shadowy corporate interests. Doc grew up in variou... Full Bio

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