Idea of the Book, was perhaps the greatest development in mankind's history, it change the passing of knowledge from word of month, family by family to something that could remain permanent though history. The invention of the book, created the peoples of the book, ruled by religion and culture wide believes. The early book where used by the Babylonians and Egyptians, writing on early paper and stone. Old books became permanent believes as evidenced by the middle aged Christians, believing Aristotle works, without bothering to check.
The first major changing to the book, was the invention of the the printing press suddenly knowledge was cheaply distributable, even the poor could own a copy of the bible, and then any book, that would be popular enough to make a profit from publishing. The second major change to the book, is about to happen now, already Internet publishing is a major industry, weather as websites, or as blogs. But the book is only just making it to the internet.
Almost everyone knows the players of the internet book revolution, already, Amazon has been selling books by mail order since the late 90's. And Google has been bizzy indexing every book (especially the copyright free out of print books), since 2003. Publishers are beginning to fear for there profits. On the internet information is available freely. Where comes the money from publishing a book. Publishers have begun suing Google over its indexing plan. But perhaps publishers have more to fear from Amazon. Amazon has make the jump from selling paper books, to electronic tombs, readable only on Amazon propitiatory Kindle tablet. Despite being one usage, black and white, with worse contrast than paper, Kindle is a small success, and where success is seen, others are sure to follow.
The future of book, might go two different ways, or somewhere between. First the internet might become a free library giving every book away for free to anyone with internet access. Publishers would hate this, and they would have change they're business model to gain money by advertising, perhaps even product placing, inside stories, like sometimes happens in Hollywood. The other way the internet book might develop is with regulated digital rights management, DRM, for each copy of the book, paid for and read on propitiatory tablets. This would be far worse, for book owners, who tied to particular equipment, can no longer swap or sell books second hand. Likely a bit of both will development, and governments will be arguing about book ownership and copyright for a long time to come. Here are some of the threads about book lawsuits that are already happening.
Perhaps though, the internet will take the book even further the we can currently imagine, when I read a book, and become evolved in it, I begin creating an imaginary world inside my own brain, that matches the story or the knowledge the author is imparting. Unlike a web-page with its may links, book is a tome of knowledge that tries to be complete in itself. With each book, comes an imaginary world, that might become a movie, a play, or a computer game. This means that along with a book, a certainly amount of artificial intelligence should come. Paper books, just have indices and contents', and Internet book, might come with its own virtual world, automatic illustration. Books might be playable, (like Warlock of Firetop Mountain), with multiple endings. I believe that adding AI to the humble book, will be an even more transformative change to human knowledge than the petty arguments, about ownership and money. The decade of two thousand and teens may be the decade of the book wars. But the decade of the two thousand and twenties might well be the decade of the AI book.