The Physical Book is NOT Dead


Whenever a new piece of technology pops up in the mainstream world, people get all up in arms about what it means for the prior piece of “technology”, for the previous way of doing things. When CD players came around it was all “OMG! What will happen to my cassette tapes?!” and then MP3 players came on the scene and it was all “OMG! What will happen to all my CDs?!” and so on. We won’t even go back as far as the record (which people still collect) and 8-tracks.  Do some things become obsolete?  Kind of. It’s true I do know someone who’s still listening to tapes in his car, but he’s a rarity.

So of course when Kindle and Nook and all those other e-readers started popping up, everyone’s first outcry was “Won’t someone think of the books?!?” closely followed by “I just *LOVE* to hold a book. To smell a book. I can’t possibly adapt to anything other than a bunch of bound paper in my hand!” Yeah, yeah. I still know people like that, and it’s fine. I get it, but adapting is a way of life folks and you may have to do it at some point…but probably not with books.

That’s right. I said it. I don’t think books are going to fall to the wayside and die a quiet death like the 8-track. Do I think digital books will gain popularity and more people will lean that way? Yes. It’s easier to get e-books, you can find lots for free, it’s perfect for lazy hermit type folks who don’t want to leave their houses, etc. I think people will still want their physical copies to put on their shelves, but maybe not copies of everything they’ve ever read. Even I don’t want to display some of the things I’ve read because they were either bad or well…I just don’t want people to know I read them! Hah. I do think if something is good enough, people will want the hard cover or paperback to proudly display on their shelves, to take to book signings and to sit on their bare coffee tables.

I also don’t think libraries are going to be obsolete. Might they try to evolve and move things more digitally? Why yes, I do suspect they will since we have already seen that movement from physical card catalogs to computerized catalogs. They’ve also uploaded many professional published articles to their online databases. It makes life easier, but that doesn’t mean the books aren’t there for people to pull out, photocopy, take notes from, etc.

There are always going to be the people who aren’t into electronics or can’t afford to buy the pricey items. The libraries and bookstores will still be there for them. I go to the local bookstore often for my writing group and there are always people milling around browsing and buying. I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

As someone who buys the majority of her books digitally, even I’m not ready to give up the physical completely. My proof? Two awesomely amazing books purchased this week that I will proudly display on my  shelves !

Hannah Moskowitz’s Gone, Gone, Gone                                                                       Joe Peacock’s Mentally Incontinent 


6 responses »

  1. You totally forget what we thought when brocoflower came out. What about the broccoli and cauliflower?! *throws self on floor, kicks, and screams*
    I think books are around for a while too. Mind you, I do NOT like reading actual books any more. I’ve become too lazy with my nook. I don’t like having to turn my head or switch positions to read the page on the other side due to shadows, or the tightness of the book binding (that I never EVER want to crease). However, there are books that I MUST have in print. To Kill a Mockingbird and the like… You just GOTTA have the greats in your library, or on your coffee table. You just GOTTA.

    • 0.o I’m good with broccoli but not a fan of cauliflower so I probably ignored that the two were put together! hahah.

      I agree, I’m spoiled with my kindle. I love the one handedness of it and the fact that I can carry hundreds of books in my purse at once, but as someone with a degree in comp. lit and languages, I have read tons of really great “classics” that I like to display. When you display them in your home and others see them, it can prompt great conversations.

      E-books allows you to read certain things without others know…like 50 shades of gray! haha

  2. I think if anything, bookstores will just get smaller. But even that’s going to take a while. I know I will still buy my favorite author’s book in hardcover or paperback or I’ll buy a book I see at a store that makes me drool. Honestly, I hope physical books never vanish as long as I’m around because I still want to get a copy of my own when I publish them. =D

  3. Also, text books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I had a digital version of a text book and I HATED it because I couldn’t highlight and take notes like I used to and they won’t be giving out e-readers to every student ya know?

  4. Some libraries lend out ereaders. 🙂 Not to argue, just to add information. I don’t see books going away anytime soon, and not just as fetishes.

    Concerts still exist. Radio. It’s all…complicated. 🙂

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