A friend of mine got a Kindle a few years back. He was all excited about it too – he loves the SF stuff and gadgets, so, for him, it was the same as two worlds colliding. He told me that he expected paper books to vanish from the face of the earth in the next few decades. I strongly disagreed at first, but now I am not so sure.
One of the reasons people of my generation (I am not that old) are in love with paper books is the sense of nostalgia. We would often spend countless hours as children reading about the adventures of our favorite heroes that are battling dragons, jumping through time and space, or traveling on foot through the States to come back home (good girl, Lassie).
On a personal note, the public library was my sanctuary when I was a kid. I loved reading there and taking out several books with me on my way out. I and other readers I’ve met over the years adore the smell of old books and new. There was an article somewhere that the awesome smell of old books is actually the smell of them falling apart very gradually, but I digress. My generation grew up with books you could hold in your hands. Which, sadly, brings me to my next point.
The Electronic Age
My eyes hurt when I try to read e-books for a longer period of time. However, the newer generations that wish to enjoy classic and modern literature, as well as well-developed video game lore will likely turn to e-books, comics they can read online, audiobooks, and the like.
Going analog may be a quaint hobby in the future, not unlike basket-weaving and hand-crafted furniture. Charming, vintage, but outside struggling nations simply not necessary. Due to their format and the lack of effort needed to deliver the product, e-books are often cheaper than their papery predecessors. Many magazines have already gone fully digital and sellers, like Amazon, offer better deals on e-books.
One of the main arguments for e-books is that they are better for the environment. It stands to reason, though. There are no trees being cut, no creatures being harmed to make the glue, and no excessive amount of electric energy is wasted in printing them. At first glance, going digital seems like the perfect plan.
That Being Said
I am still convinced that classic, paper books will persevere. Here’s why – they have survived everything else. Let me explain. Books have preceded many entertainment forms that people are accustomed today and, generally speaking, tend to choose over them. First, there was the radio, then the comic books, followed by the cinema, TV, video games, and finally the internet.
Through all of that, paper books remained. They are still an awesome educational tool and a way to expand our minds. In this world that is filled with content that is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, sitting down with a book is an experience that will never truly go out of style. Civilizations will fall and oceans will rise, but you can bet that, even in the distant future, there will be people reading ink blots on paper.