The Future of the Reference Book

Reference books (i.e., encyclopedias, travel books, collections of movie reviews, books of art prints, and so on, provide information to a user who is in one of two situations. Either he knows what he wants to find out and hopes that the information he seeks is in the reference book he has found, or he is leafing through the reference book, seeing if there is anything of interest to be found there. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about a reference book and I have found that when I suggest that reference books will soon be a thing of the past, only the publishers of those books are among the mourners.

Most people do welcome the idea that reference books will get replaced by something that's easier to use. Information is difficult to find in this world because there is too much of it. ASK systems will help. The better we get at making them, the sooner reference books will disappear. If you can ask the computer a question and get an answer, or if you can leaf through information in a way that is easier, more useful, and adaptable to you, you will not think twice about getting a computer that has access to everything you might want to know.

Next Story The Future of the Non-Fiction Book

Outline Where am I in the content of the book?

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