Readmen are only the near-future electronic threat; turning paper books into aluminum-coated polycarbonate discs will not remove all the problems inherent in producing many copies of each title on a fixed medium. The long-term threat to paper publishing comes from dynabooks.
In 1971, Alan Kay at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) had an idea for a computational notebook that he called a dynabook . For the purposes of this report, a dynabook is a notebook-sized keyboardless portable computer, with a large high-resolution touch-sensitive color display and an electronic pen. It communicates with the world through radio. The screen is large enough to display two document pages at a time, in 11 point font and at paper resolution, and the pen can be used to annotate electronic documents. The dynabook must be a carry-anywhere device; it must be waterproof and robust enough to survive a 2 meter fall.
It could function as: computer, phone, and credit card; body health sensor, proximity sensor, and police whistle radio; clock, calendar, agenda, reminder, alarm, and diary; notepad, drawing-pad, and music synthesizer; mailbox, typewriter, and voicewriter; spelling, grammar, style, pronunciation, and word frequency checker; dictionary, encyclopedia, foreign phrase translator, global map, location finder, and restaurant guide; video camera, news viewer, video game display, and movie viewer; library, and of course, book reader.
Dynabooks have yet to be realized cheaply but the technology is almost here.