<p>Is the internet killing non-fiction books? Think about it, most of the information that most people want to know about a subject can be found online. </p>
<p>More than that, it can be found more quickly than going out to buy a book; the information can be refined to take into account personal preferences; and related pictures, maps, diagrams, even videos, can be studied. Furthermore, everything can be cross-referenced quickly; it's easy to check up on the very latest information; and even to look at how other users have rated the same findings.</p>
<p>Then the killer blow&mdash;it is all free. Why would I ever want to track down a basic book about gardening, travel, fishing, cooking, knitting, cars, etc when I can find everything (and I mean everything) I could ever wish to know in a bespoke, digestible form that is in my home already? Before you protest, think about how much faith already we put in Trip Advisor or even Wikipedia when in the past we would have turned to a book.</p>
<p>The internet is killing vast swathes of non-fiction books and it will redefine not only the kind of books that survive but also the type of people who buy them. </p>
<p>What is most likely to happen is that the &ldquo;middle-ground'&mdash;all those cheap to mid-price books that give wide-ranging overviews on a given subject, written by someone who is not widely known, unexceptionally produced and under-supported by marketing&mdash;will struggle. </p>
<p>As for readers, those with a passing interest or immediate need to know about a subject will turn to the web. The ones who will continue to buy books will be those who are buying them to make a statement (if only to themselves) about their passion for a given subject.<br />
It is the extremes that will probably drive commercial success:</p>
<p>The book: is it a beautiful object of desire? This is less about the content and more about the production values. </p>
<p>The content: is it an extraordinary or personal story (a <i>Touching the Void</i> or a Parky memoir)? The kind of story that demands getting inside the heads of the protagonists rather than those of bloggers or journalists.</p>
<p>The reader: is the reader passionate about the subject? Do they really want to immerse themselves in the subject matter rather than simply obtain information about it.</p>
<p>Simple stuff, but the book industry is panicking about non-fiction and the response to date has simply been to do less of the same thing.</p>
<p>Maybe if we begin to look to the internet as the reason for non-fiction's decline, we might arrive at more interesting and successful solutions.<br />