Article  | 

The day the last book was printed on paper


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Could there be a world without physical books? In 2022, despite the rise of internet sales, out of every 100 books sold, 68 will have been bought through bookshops. With this in mind, it is worth rephrasing the question: How many shapes will a book absorb in the near future?


The European publishing sector is in the midst of major changes that impact the entire book publishing process. Today, reading competes with a wide range of entertainment that is valued for its convenience, availability and the possibility to be enjoyed simultaneously with others. In addition, digital technologies open up new business models for publishers. Projects such as Möbius are working to enable publishers to understand how global readers relate to books, their characters and their stories in order to explore new business possibilities. Companies like Amazon, as well as other self-publishing and crowd-publishing companies, demonstrate that immersion in the digital age is inevitable and that it is necessary to develop resilience in times of crisis. The price of paper adds even more difficulties to a sector that is looking for new solutions to attract an increasingly demanding reader in search of personalised products.


At the same time, the latest trends in technological development leave room to place people at the centre through digital humanism. To prevent technological developments such as the expansion of artificial intelligence, algorithms, the data economy, neuro-technology and the violation of privacy from slipping out of human control, digital humanism underlines the need to adopt a humanistic approach.


In this context, imagining a near future where physical books are no longer printed allows us to identify solutions or alternatives where the reader ultimately becomes the hero. Imagine for a moment what International Book Day would be like:


23 April 2030. The sudden rise in the price of paper leaves publishers with no choice but to stop printing books. For years now, books have only been printed on demand and few people can afford to come into possession of a physical edition. 


The mere thought of not being able to touch a physical book provokes a certain uncertainty. That is why, in a forest in Norway, every year an author deposits his or her text in the Future Library. The text is unpublished and will remain so until 2114 when it will be printed with the trees of the forest. Future Library is a project by artist Katie Peterson that seeks to make a long-term commitment to a sustainable future. It only needs to be mentioned that Margaret Atwood was the first author to sign up to the project to give an idea of the project’s impact.



Marjorie Grassler, European Project Executive.



What if books could change how read in the future? Read more below: Seeking for 1001 Ways to Read a Book