I’ve just been reading an article about printed books and their decline. But really, are printed books going to be a thing of the past? In my opinion, no. That is a strange thing for me to say, as not so long ago I was selling books on the internet. I stopped because sales became few and far between. So why do I feel that printed books will remain?
When I was little I was very proud to have my bookshelf. I was able to read and write before I went to school (I have a great mum who taught me). I had all of the Famous Five books and a number of classics like What Katy Did. When I went to bed, I’d always read for a while. This always included a dictionary so I could look up things I didn’t understand. I was very proud of my books, and kept them looking good.
But now we have e-book readers that seem to be pushing printed books into oblivion. The premise seems to be that you can carry any number of books around with you at any time, and read wherever you want. Well, I don’t know about you, but I only read one book at a time – and the printed version is fully portable. You’ll never have an e-book reader bookshelf. You won’t be able run your finger along the shelf, deciding which one you would like to read. Part of the fun of printed books is their tactile nature – turning down the corner of the page, making notes in columns, making Post-It-Note bookmarks. The electronic version doesn’t allow you to have several books laid out on the table to study from. There is certainly a reduced quality to an e-book.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not at all opposed to electronic archives. I work for a company which does just that. And archive institutes which are investing in this are certainly helping to bring historical documents etc to a wider audience. Electronic digitisation certainly has its positive side. But it has its negative too. That is the ever-moving changes to modern technology. E-books may have the upper hand right now, but like mobile phones and computers, you will need to upgrade at some point and there will always be a newer and better version. And with the cost of these e-readers, the consumer will soon get fed-up and retire back to the paper version, which will never need upgrading.
So yes, I say the printed book will win the day. Sitting down in the evening to read an e-book will not be the same. Sitting down to read with your child on an e-reader will not convey the same effect as turning the pages. Once upon a time, the computer was supposed to bring the end of paper. That never happened. Just the same will happen with books.