?

In 1-2 centuries will we have printed materials?

  1. Yes, books will still be made.

    6 vote(s)
    46.2%
  2. No, only antique books will exist.

    3 vote(s)
    23.1%
  3. People will print materials still, but not books.

    3 vote(s)
    23.1%
  4. Individual books will exist but not in paper format.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Other (please explain, thanks).

    1 vote(s)
    7.7%
  1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Opinions sought - the future of printed materials

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by GingerCoffee, Apr 5, 2014.

    My setting is between 1-2 centuries in the future. Everything people read is electronic like computers and tablets. With the exception of books in special preservation locations like museums and people who collect antiquities, do you think people will continue to print anything? Or do you think everything will be on a screen from images to reading material?

    Aaarrrggghhh, I hit enter and the thread posted before the poll was complete. Now I can't edit the poll.

    Oh well, post your opinions and I'll figure it out.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    I think that paper will stick around as a decorative material and art supply. Custom print shops will probably still be open to make posters and reproduction newspaper. Patterned gift wrap will probably still be available, even if it has the same patterns as printed cloth.

    I think that fresh books in dead-tree format might be rare, and cater to a specific subculture of people. (Like how steampunk computers are trying to invoke the sturdiness and beauty of non-disposable technology.)

    And some radical anti-tech movement could certainly get their hands on machinery to mass-produce their pamphlets.
     
  3. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    We already have electronic paper in prototype stage, so while there might still be "print documents" they are likely to be a one or two sheet item with a memory chip attached. Either that or a highly advanced "wearable" interface will project the documents directly into the eye or mind.
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I can edit the poll for you. PM me the intended reply options.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as human behavior hasn't really changed all that much since 1814, i don't see it changing significantly in the next couple of centuries... which means some who revere 'the old days/ways' [as many do today] will most likely still be creating printed writings for themselves and for others of their ilk... depending on the governmental and societal climate at the time, this may be done openly for a select few purchasers/sharers, or in secret, to avoid prosecution/persecution...
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Poll is fixed. :)
     
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  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm thinking of the things that would be hard to make electronic:

    - Advertising, both commercial and political. Advertising is imposed on people; people don't want it. So no one's going to help with compatibility problems that prevent them from getting the unwanted ads from the carpet shampoo people, and in fact they're going to be clamoring for software to prevent those ads. The big guys who own the readers and reading software may sell ad space, but that's not going to eliminate paper flyers and brochures and other advertising material. I think that some of that will still be printed, unless conservation laws kick in that make it prohibitively expensive.

    - At first I was thinking of things like DMV forms and voter registration cards--things that have to be available to everyone, no matter what their state of income or willingness to use technology. But it occurs to me that the DMV and the registrar will probably have their own devices for filling out electronic forms, so that narrows to "willingness to use technology", and I don't know if that's going to be enough to keep paper around.

    - Luxury and nostalgia. There will still be some real paper books printed, for the novelty of it.

    - I'm assuming that you're assuming that packaging and other decorative printing will still happen, and that you're primarily talking about printing that's meant to be read.

    - So that gets us down to whether there will remain a large enough population of people who want to read physical books, to justify the continuing publication of books. I'm just not sure how to predict that. People are strange and fickle things. We still eat butter, even with all that nonsense about cows and milking and churning, when we could avoid all that by eating margarine. The wheel width of our vehicles is still based, according to something that I read, on the wheel width of Roman chariots. Vinyl records have retreated to a tiny fraction of the usage they once had, but it doesn't look like they're going to shrink all that much more. How do you predict what unnecessary things and habits will continue to appeal to the public taste?
     
  8. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    Now I'm really thinking about how 3-d printing technology will become fine enough to make old-fashioned vinyl records from uncompressed sound files... Wait, just use the same technology used to push high-framerate movies to the theaters, then feed it into a few printing houses that have old-fashioned record-cutting machines and have them shipped. (I seem to remember cardstock records?)

    Eating butter instead of margarine... someone else is going through the trouble and margarine still makes someone else produce it. Public demand for real butter means that I'm buying whipping cream to fluff it, not attach the carton to a drill head until it solidifies.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    True. Like why does vinyl have an afterlife, but not cassette tapes? And it seems even 8 track has a small cult of anachronism.

    For all intents and purposes the scroll is a dead medium for the storage or presentation of books unless you belong to SCA or are a rabbi, and though a Sefer Torah is a thing of immense beauty, is this one use enough to make "Sure, people still use scrolls. Totally, man." a true statement in any meaningful way? So, (and I direct this at you, @GingerCoffee) though I agree that there will probably still be dead-tree books in the way we know them today for certain very niche uses (religious texts again comes to mind), would a use as obscure as that would be in the face of physical booklessness in pretty much all other realms count as "still being around"?
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In addition to all of the above, I want to point out that the main reason, environmentally, that people are moving to e-books is that paper books destroy our beloved trees. In the future, though, we'll probably have better, cheaper, and far more renewable sources of paper - possibly even synthetic fibers that can be customized for texture, print resolution, weight, etc. and be far better for printing than wood-pulp paper is.

    If that happens, paper books and magazines might still be economically competitive and environmentally friendly. There won't be a need to switch away from them.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Could you explain this a bit more. I'm trying to picture it but I see a tablet replacing a single page of paper and that can't be right.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I like the idea but I was thinking the radicals in my story would use some kind of P to P tech that avoided the main Internet structure.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hasn't changed since 1814? Why did you pick that date?

    I was thinking more along the lines of when everyone alive today was gone.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Your poll mentions "1 to 2 centuries..." 2 centuries ago would be 1814.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Ohhh, I get it. Thanks.

    In that case, my original comment @mammamaia was going to be, "Are you serious?"
     
  16. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    Firstly I think this is very unpredicable. Seeing a year into the future of technology is reasonably reliable, and a decade also relatively so. A century, however, and technology and society might have time to invent a more "efficient" (cheaper, quicker, easier on the eyes, simpler, more varied etc.) way of reading books or to replace the entire notion of books with something else, especially in this day and age (thousands of years ago a century meant less than it means now, because we now already have technology that allows us to invent new technology, plus we have a nearly complete interconnection of roughly hundredfold the number of people that lived back then). We might also have no trees left to make books from or we might have gone exting; we can't know and the variables and too great for any meaningful speculation. My prediction, however, is that we'll still have print books, but that the vast majority (maybe 999 permille or so) of all books will be digital files and that the idea of a book will become a wider one to include various types of multimedia and account for many different genres, lengths and styles; even more than today.

    I imagine print text will probably only be used when it is practical, for example for very important documents in case of power outages and when camping far into the wilderness, and of course historians and museums will want to get ahold of significant and rare editions of books, possibly even ones that were published after the transition to ebooks is complete. Some people will undoubtedly want to stick to print books, and I suggest they will be able to without great cost or trouble for a long time, either because they believe it to be better or healthier or merely for nostalgic reasons. Shooing and to-do lists may or may not be digitised at roughly the same time as books, depending on whether or not simplistic technolgy evolves quickly enough for there not to be any reason to keep having a notepad and a pen or pencil around. One thich I haven't touched too much on is the economy of it all: perhaps print texts will be too expensive, or perhaps electronic devices will be too expensive for everyone not part of the elite, depending on how we're doing when it comes to monetary equality in the world at that time.
     
  17. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    Why would they persecute print book readers, though? That seems like a pretty bleak vision of the future. Have you been reading too much dystopian fiction, lol? :p
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I know it's unpredictable. That's why I'm looking for the insight of multiple opinions. And you guys do not disappoint. You are all giving me some great ideas. :)
     
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  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's not really why I (guiltily) have a Kindle. For me, it's more about portability, and storage space, and instantaneous access.
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I proudly have a Kindle. I actually have two of them, and I'm thinking of getting a third. I have an original Kindle, but it's screen is smaller and has less contrast than I like. I have a big Kindle (the DX, I think it's called) which looks much nicer, but its screen got damaged once when I took it in my carry-on bag with some non-Kindle-friendly hardware. It works, and is usable, but it looks like hell and I can't read a page on it without wishing I had an undamaged screen.

    Portability and storage space are great reasons to get a Kindle. The problem is, if the Kindle gets damaged like mine is, your entire library is damaged. Ugh.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This confuses me. My Kindle mostly contains books bought from Amazon, and I assume that if my Kindle is damaged I just get a new one and re-download. Do your books mostly come from other sources?
     
  22. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    People like holding a book for the cool factor.
     
  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I buy from Amazon, too. And, yeah, this is why I'm thinking of getting a new one. I'm just old-fashioned and a bit reluctant to buy things I don't really need (my dad was from Mennonite stock), and it's hard for me to justify having three Kindles when I have two already. Grr ... I sometimes hate my modest habits! :oops:o_O
     
  24. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Another fact: nonfiction doesn't get ebooked. Especially old nonfiction, no matter how important or shocking the contents are.
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah! Well, that makes sense. I bought the very very cheapest Kindle, so I understand the frugality. (I got that one so that I wouldn't feel obligated to get it a cover, and because I intend to read it in the bathtub, inside a Ziploc, but I don't want to be too angry if the Ziploc fails me.)
     
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