There are two factors which are influencing the current revolution in the publishing industry. The first is the desire of readers to have easy access to large amounts of written information. Stewart Brand’s famous statement that, “Information wants to be free”, is not a reference to the pricing of information available to consumers. Brand’s statement is actually an understanding that information will find a way to flow freely. Much like a river cutting through rock, information over time finds a way to follow the path of least resistance to the recipient.
The second factor is that the cost of manufacturing, moving, and storing physical printed material is unsustainable. Bringing physical books to market is no longer profitable as costs of labor, shipping, and retail space rise.
Much like the codex replaced the scroll as the best technology available to transfer information over distances, new information technologies are emerging in response to these two market forces. The future of publishing is in developing those new technologies.