Based on a paper presented at the UKSG seminar ‘E-book: the new serial?’, The British Library Conference Centre, London,Wednesday 9 November 2005
In the United States ‘20/20’ means normal vision, being clear- sighted. In the digital book community, ‘2020’ now has a different meaning – the British Library’s prescient understanding of ‘the book’ 15 years from now, in the year 2020. It is based on first-rate research, the best that we have. But it is a partial view.This paper suggests where we have come from, where we are now, and where – perhaps – we might be going. It highlights the importance to publishers of product life cycle management and all that entails, and explains the concept of the publisher-producer.The short history of the e-book has embraced both vision and the visionary but we need to be sceptical of technology’s wilder promises for the period up to 2020.Yet the future prospect is positive: there should be every confidence that the new gener- ation joining the industry will rise to the publishing challenges outlined.