According to Cisco, the number of Internet-enabled devices will exceed a mind-boggling 15 billion, by 2015. That's more than twice the world's population. Basically, the numbers of tablets and smartphones are exploding. Hastened by a race between manufacturers across the planet to launch sophisticated but affordable tablets, which really could change everything.
The world's cheapest tablet, priced at the equivalent of 23 pounds, has just been released in India. Making the internet-enabled digital world accessible to many billions of people, not just the privileged few. Opening up a world of education, communication, entertainment and ecommerce to all 6.7 billion of us.
This year, sales of ebooks outstripped sales of printed books on Amazon. Amazon's Kindle ebook and ereader business is expected to account for 10% of Amazon's annual revenue by 2012. Ten percent of the revenue of one of the world's largest tech companies. Goes to show that the demand for ebooks and ereaders is voracious and growing incredibly fast.
Amazon recently announced that Kindle owners can borrow ebooks from 11,000 local libraries, across the United States. Free of charge. Just like in a physical library. The world is changing. And the opportunities for books and book lovers have never been greater.
Amazon reports that Kindle users read more books. It may be because serious booklovers buy Kindles. But it could have a lot to do with the technology too. Think about it. You want a book. No trip to the shops, or the library. No ordering online and waiting for the post. You want it. You press a button. And 15 seconds later, you're reading the opening line.
It gets better. All the books old enough to be out of copyright from Shakespeare to the works of the Bronte sisters they're free. Yes, free. So you no longer need to be wealthy to have a private library. You just need 23 pounds to spend on the world's cheapest tablet. And an internet connection.
Future generations won't need paper libraries. They'll find the idea of them quaint and limiting. Dusty halls with finite shelf-space, books falling apart from wear and tear. And the Dewey decimal system, instead of a powerful algorithm, to help you find what you need.
The print world has limited print runs and no ability to auto update, so your beautiful book not only takes up valuable real estate, but it ages too. The digital world brings infinite opportunities. Knowledge saved forever, retrievable in an instant, never out of print. And alongside the power of the printed word, the power of the full-colour image, video, audio, augmented reality and infinite links. Books that are literally living and breathing, update like apps, and are packed full of magical discoveries.
Books are going digital. And that's a beautiful thing, because it means more people, reading more books. It means more people teaching themselves to read through literacy apps. It means democratisation of knowledge. Freedom of inspiration. Poetry for the people. Education for everyone. And I can't wait.