The books business: Great digital expectations | The Economist

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TO SEE how profoundly the book business is changing, watch the shelves. Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous “BILLY” bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read.

In the first five months of this year sales of consumer e-books in America overtook those from adult hardback books. Just a year earlier hardbacks had been worth more than three times as much as e-books, according to the Association of American Publishers. Amazon now sells more copies of e-books than paper books. The drift to digits will speed up as bookshops close. Borders, once a retail behemoth, is liquidating all of its American stores.

Ongoing sad times for the local bookstore.

Isn’t this part of a larger trend, building ‘cloud’ / or ubiquitous connectivity and information into all of our lives. The same trend impacting IT across the board. Bringing both disruption of our comfortable ways of doing things, and radical new capabilities?

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