Daily, I continue to refer to physical textbooks (and books) printed anywhere from 2 to 100 years ago. I barely can access digital content I wrote less than 10 years ago due to format rot, vintage software and hardware dependencies, licensing problems, and more. (In other words, nothing the cloud can help with today.)
I kept hoping that enough SF novels, films or stories depicting a bleak future controlled by the wealthy, the shrewd or the lucky would make it into the mainstream to prevent it from happening, but it’s already here. Unless you’re made of disposable income, you’re not going to be able to read that digital textbook you’re leasing (not buying!) next year, let alone in 5 when the reading device no longer functions. And don’t kid yourself; with Pearson supporting SOPA, the intent is clear – information is borrowed, the copy never belonging to you.
When the next Library of Alexandria is burned to the ground, will the used book stores be stripped to the bare walls within days? Or will they even exist?
Update: This recent article, and its comment thread, is also relevant.