Although we may want books, we may not be able to afford them as the digital world impacts on traditional publishing. Books are published by companies that rely on the profits from some bestsellers to support the less popular, perhaps using the money from sales to schools and libraries to sustain a fiction list, or money from directories to keep things afloat, and this ecosystem is falling apart. Newspapers are losing classified advertising to online services such as Craigslist and as a result find it harder to stay profitable as businesses, and publishers are facing their own problems. Parents buy fewer encyclopaedias because information is available online, and schools buy fewer books of all types because children are encouraged to look to the web.
Read Bill Thompson’s Cultural past of the digital age from the BBC