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Can sci-fi predict the future of e-readers and e-libraries?

Okay, so Amazon has been reporting how their e-book sales have gone through the roof. My immediate response to that news: of course they are screaming it to all who will hear—they want to sell more Kindles! When the iPad launched and reports came out about how this was boosting e-book sales, my first thought was new toy phenomena. People buy an iPad because it’s cool and they are looking for things to do with it. Of course they are going to download books. Will the sales drop off once people find other things to do with their gadget or are we on the cutting edge of a major shift in reading?

Honestly, I’m not really opposed to this change, but I do fear what the changes are doing to the publishing business. I know it will all work out in the end but I fear the transition. This is one of those times when I’d rather just hop into the future where they have it all worked out.

Ritual of Proof coverJust for fun, here are a few of the instances when e-books or e-libraries have made a memorable appearance in sci-fi:

In Dara Joy’s 2001 book, Ritual of Proof, the entire culture of her colony planet was based on the Regency-set romance novels the ship passengers had on board when they landed. Only, the mostly women colonists reversed the rolls, giving women the power. Green, the heroine, carries an e-reader with her when she travels.

In the 2002 movie based loosely on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Alexander travels through time to 2030 NYC and visits a holographic AI librarian called Vox 114 who insists that time travel is impossible. Later, in the far future, he bumps into Vox again. This time in the library ruins. Vox has grown lonely and forgotten with the terrible changes that altered Earth’s civilization around him. At the end of the story there is hope for Vox, as Alexander introduces him to the Eloi.

In SG1/SG Atlantis, the holographic librarian in the Atlantean library again preserved the knowledge of a lost civilization. In one episode, an “Ascended Being” impersonated the librarian to secretly help Daniel find a way to defeat the Ori.

I’m sure there are more. Which ones do you remember?

7 thoughts on “Can sci-fi predict the future of e-readers and e-libraries?

  1. Huh…I just mentioned something like this on my blog. In a Dr. Who episode, there’s a library that’s a repository for the entire galaxy. It was a two parter episode, I believe, and bad things were happening in this place. The plot was clever, having something to do with the trees that were cut down to make all that paper…living trees. I think it had a holographic librarian but don’t remember all the details. Makes me wonder if all of our literary works will some day be stored like this in miles of dusty shelves, a remnant of a lost civilization, or perhaps only in digital files. Try to watch that episode. It stuck with me for some reason.

    • Sounds like an intriguing episode. I’ll have to go hunting for it. Yay for YouTube!

      I really hope someone is storing books in a variety of formats. I’m a big believer in back-up plans!

  2. Oh yes, I remember River distinctly being in those Dr. Who episodes and what happened to her. I like the new actor who plays the lead and his companion is the prettiest so far. She drags her fiance around on their adventures. Still don’t understand that hole in the universe/crack in space-time stuff.

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