Yikes. All this talk about the future of books and the future of ebooks. Will it be like the Kindle? Will it be like the iPad?
The book of the future is already here. It’s been here for about 15 years. It’s called The Web.
That’s taking books as the medium by which we develop, preserve, and communicate ideas and knowledge. The Web is already that book — distributed, linked, messy, unstable, self-contradictory, bottom up and top down, never done, unsettled and unsettling, by us and of us. The book of the future has a trillion pages and trillions of links, and is only getting started.
If, however, you mean by “book” a bounded stretch of an authorial monologue, we have plenty of those on the Web, and some have great value. But they now get their value by being linked into the roiling universe of their peers.
The book of the future isn’t on the Web; it is the Web.