Imagineering the book trade of the future

On 20th November 2012 last year, I attended one of the Cambridge Publishing Society’s events headlined by the Cambridge University Press President, Stephen Bourne who gave an intriguing talk entitled ‘Imagineering the book trade in 2050’.

Whilst I did not blog about it at the time, I saw this article (Google Glass offered for $16,000 on eBay) on The Guardian today, and it triggered the event in my memory.

Firstly, I feel I must define the term Imagineering – imagining how things can be in the future and engineering that through. Bourne commenced the talk by describing the changes in technology over the past 50 years by mentioning colour television sets, telephones and the first cell phone in 1984. He then proceeded to talk about possible book trade scenarios in 205o…

This included the increase of reading on devices, ie. the Google Glass.

Originally bought at $1,500, the Google Glass was sold for $16,000 on online auction site, eBay. Bourne described that smaller devices with the ability of ‘virtual expansion’ would be a thing of the future, however Google’s new gadget has brought the future to the present. Bourne also stated how he though that devices of the future will be eventually become to be linked to the nervous system, controlled by the brain and our thoughts. This I found to be reiterated through an article which The Guardian published the other day where it said how Douglas Engelbart, pioneer in computer science and inventor of the computer mouse, voiced his strong belief that ‘computers had the power to augment, rather than replace human capabilities’.

That said, one thing which Bourne made clear in his talk and is also something which I believe, is that future devices will be shaped by what the public demands. Who knows how the technology of today will be adapted in the future. Certainly in terms of publishing, Bourne stated how there will be a change in reading patterns where books will be read in bitesize chunks. In terms of the Google Glass, I believe it is devices like this which will take over the Kindle and iPad in favour for a device which will do everything. Personally, I’m not yet sold on the thought of walking around with a computer in my glasses. That said, that was the kind of attitude I had when I first heard about the Kindle.

It will be interesting to see how the future of publishing will be integrated into devices such as Google Glass. One thing is for sure, currently being in my early twenties, I cannot wait to see what technology will be available in my early thirties.

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About ambergunn

English Language and Literature graduate and MA Publishing graduate from Anglia Ruskin University. Production Editor at a STM journal publisher in London. Tea lover, bookworm and metaphor appreciator. View all posts by ambergunn

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