2020 vision: Price-erian authors prosper as the latest technology beams bestsellers straight on to the retina

The second decade of the 21st century started in a perilous place for traditional book publishing. Apple launched its Tablet early in 2010, rendering all 2009's e-reader Christmas presents immediately obsolete as users realised that you could download literature on to a wireless device without wanting to bang your head repeatedly against 70 copies of War and Peace. In winter 2010, e-books reigned and so-called Dead Tree Books were burned all over the country in an effort to conserve oil resources. But an unexpected glitch in the technology meant that the Tablet accidentally censored e-copies of Steve Jobs' autobiography, deleting all evidence of the Apple boss's personality from users' blink-proof screens.

Celebrity memoirs otherwise did well, however, when publishers accepted that readers wouldn't buy books any more unless they were written "by Jordan". We already know that Martin Amis was the first to catch on to the trend by basing a character on her in his 2010 novel, State of England. Salman Rushdie soon followed suit, producing a best-selling work of magic realism about two talking bags of silicone who live on a mythical Antipodean island.

Soon, every book published was a classic work of literature fed through a Random Dan Brown Generator and "written" by the 1990s glamour model. Hence the shelves were full of titles such as The Elsinore Paradox by Katie Price, ghostwritten (they add in tiny print) by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Philip Hensher or Irvine Welsh. Naturally, by this stage these were not produced using dead trees, but beamed on to the reader's retina using revolutionary e-lens technology.

Happily, though, fears about the demise of intelligent books coverage on television proved to be unfounded, even after Richard & Judy's and Oprah's book clubs came to an end. The former relaunched in January 2010, as we know, hosted by TV's Gok Wan and Laila Rouass, while the latter is soon to get a revamp with Paris Hilton as its host. Later, ratings zig-zagged as Trinny and Susannah revived The Late Review, and Mark Lawson and Melvyn Bragg moved over to What Not To Wear, broadcast on ITV17 from spring 2013.

The chick-lit craze came to an embarrassing end when a PR company employed to represent the latest pink-clad bonkbuster by an Irish boyband member's wife churned out so much product placement around the launch of the novel that they forgot to produce a novel. Not with ink, e-ink or the revolutionary new Osmosis Inc technology, which allows readers to absorb the content of the latest opus simply by inhaling it. Regular readers will remember that a brief flirtation with calling any novel with a gay character "dick lit" was hastily curtailed following ugly scenes between TV's Gok and Gore Vidal. Sick lit, thick lit and taking the mick lit never really caught on, but for a febrile few years the future looked like belonging to "twit lit", in which the reader could have the constant musings of Stephen Fry injected directly into their bloodstream. There followed a dark period of suspicion and cruel Twitterphobia, as a new computer virus cut swathes through careless users.

Richard Watson's seminal December 2009 classic, Future Files: The Five Trends That Will Shape the Next 50 Years, turned out to be wrong on most counts (disposable phones; a Moon village; nano drinks; smart baths...) but was eerily prescient about the world-shattering invention of sensory internet. Sales of Lady Chatterley's Lover have soared, while Tolkein fans persisted with their by-now somewhat masochistic gadget addictions. The speed of technological progress slowed rapidly at this point because all the geeks were shut indoors rereading the Tiffany Aching scenes from Discworld.

More recently, there was a flurry of excitement when that lost masterpiece by the late literary icon Sebastian Faulks was found in a drawer and cleared for publication by his adoring son. Faulks, it transpires, had begged for the manuscript to be burned after his death because it was evidently a pile of old rubbish. But Penguin rescued it, bound it in covers made of diamonds and sold it with a free snog from Zadie Smith for every reader. It turned out not to fool anyone but inspired a brilliant new publishing trend: novels by real authors, printed on paper and bound with an eye-catching cover design. This maverick idea caught on, as you'll know, when readers discovered that they were cheap, portable and you could read them in the bath. They call it a "book". A publishing sensation has arrived.

Arts and Entertainment
By Seuss! ‘What Pet Shall I Get?’ hits the bookshops this week
Books
Arts and Entertainment
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after Enola Gray and her crew dropped the bomb
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Elliott outside his stationery store that houses a Post Office
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'