Did Star Wars show us the future of digital publishing?

Despite most of us cringing our way through the Star Wars prequels, any book nerd or tech enthusiast will remember a certain scene from Attack of the Clones that will stick with us forever:

  No we weren't talking about Hayden   Christensen's   stiff acting.

No we weren't talking about Hayden Christensen's stiff acting.

The Jedi Archives seemed to combine the beauty and splendor of physical books with their efficient digital counterparts to create this breathtaking temple of knowledge. And while some might argue that digitization has caused society in the Star Wars universe to evolve into one that operates in functional illiteracy, the Jedi at least value the preservation and utilization of knowledge through book form, even if that form is so technologically advanced our digital technology hasn't yet begun to touch it. 

But are the books in the Jedi Archive really so far removed from our current technology? Upon observation of the shelves, the digital books seem to be lined up as if they occupied physical space, spines facing out for ease of browsing (just like our regular, dusty print libraries). Some of the spines even seem to exhibit discolouration or dimness, causing one to wonder if digital deterioration, just like the breakdown of a paper book, might be an issue in this digital world.

As tactile as these glowing books appear, they still must be accessed through a digital interface, like these screens or a droid. While our own portable ebook technology is nowhere as cute as having an adorable droid at your side to display your favourite novel, it is certainly more compact and discrete: I'm not sure if I'm confident enough to have BB-8 project my bodice-ripping romances for the world to see while I'm trying to sneak some reading in on my commute. 

Digital books in the Star Wars universe also seem to have far more interactivity and advanced features built into them. Obi Wan can drill down to the information he wants in this galactic map, search, click on elements, and receive more information. Will future digital books allow us to harness the power of the internet's full range of information in our hands? Are we already there with smartphones and book apps?

Because we at BookNet wonder about this kind of stuff on the regular, we release The State of Digital Publishing in Canada reports annually, and this year is no different. From The State of Digital Publishing in Canada 2014 report, we discovered that almost all publishers are turning to digital to keep up with the rapidly evolving technological needs of their tech-savvy readers, and that ebooks are being produced not only in the hope of bolstering profits but to meet accessibility needs as well. And it's the new norm to release print and digital versions simultaneously.

We (and the industry as a whole) want to know how the state of digital publishing has advanced in 2015. Publishers who fill out the survey will be helping us take stock of how far digital has progressed over the past two years, and respondents will receive an advance copy of the report. So let us know just how close we are to achieving something as wondrous as the Jedi Archives, or if our technology may have already surpassed these tradition-loving Jedis in ways we didn't expect. 

Complete the survey.

If you complete the survey before Feb. 13, 2016, you will be entered into a draw for prizes that include tickets for BookNet’s Tech Forum on April 1, 2016, or a copy of one of our consumer studies!