Some technology trends seem to repeat. The OS, the browser, the portal, the search engine, the mobile OS, all have seen the same patterns repeat. One claim early on as computers became everyday business devices was that it was the dawn of the paperless office. No more documents printed and passed around for review, everything was going to be done electronically – even signatures.
Of course, it overlooked the fact that computers also made producing paper much easier. High-quality documents were no longer tediously typed, with any mistake difficult to correct, but easily fixed and printed by anyone, with no experience in typesetting or design necessary. Far from a paperless office, the computer brought an office filled with paper like never before, so much so that the travails of working with whimsical printers became a cliche.
Now we are talking about the death of printed books. With the advent of e-readers, the book is proclaimed dead, a dinosaur, an artifact of a foregone era. Also overlooked is that technology is also allowing the publication and yes, printing, of books to be easier than ever before. Createspace, Lulu, and Xlibris are just a few services that can allow anyone to publish – with little to no technical knowledge necessary.
At the office, I still see paper printed everyday. Will books explode like paper in the office, or will we see paperless books before the paperless office?