Tech Mogul Predicts Physical Books will Disappear in Five Years

Paul Lilly

During an interview with CNN's Howard Kurtz, author Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop per Child project, said that physical books are not long for this world.

"It will be in five years," Negroponte said in reference to the demise of physical books. "The physical medium cannot be distributed to enough people. When you go to Africa, half a million people want books ... you can't send the physical thing. When we ship with our laptop books to a village, we put 100 books on a laptop, but we also send 100 laptops in ... That village now has 10,000 books. This is an African village without electricity. So that's the future."

Negroponte clearly sees eBook readers and tablets supplanting physical books in the not-too-distant future, and it should be noted that Amazon recently said it sold more eBooks than paperback ones. At the same time, it's hard to imagine a world without physical books. Let's forget about the technological hurdles still to be worked out -- like the iPad's poor performance in sunlight and eBook readers requiring a light when reading in the dark -- there are some, and probably many, who will always prefer the look, feel, and even the smell of a paper bound book.

Do you see eBooks and tablets replacing traditional books in five years? How about in 10 years, or beyond?

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