Scallywag

It is by believing in roses that one brings them to bloom.

~ French Proverb ~

Are Books Still Better?

October 22nd, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 24 secs

Books the good old fashioned way. But are they here to stay?

Google may be good but there’s still a place for books. Despite all the pressure on kids to give page turning the flick, books persist. Even e-books, which straddle the reading divide and allow a somewhat book-ish experience, still haven’t quite got it. Real books are in a class of their own.

Not that there’s much wrong with online and e-book formats. Having established them in the reading world within a very short timeframe, we have now been given a choice.

Mind you, I confess I have a soft spot for books. I love the feel of them, their shape, and even the space they take. To walk past rows of books and glance at their titles feels right. To me, sliding a book out, opening it up, and leafing through its paper pages is itself engaging.

But, as you know only too well, the world is changing. Now, if you wish, you can forgo hauling huge piles of books around with you and put the lot onto one convenient reader. Or, alternatively, you can read everything you want on a big screen.

The issue is one of preference. Some people say they don’t like reading via computer screens. Yet, with the advent of Kindles, Nobo’s Sony e-readers, Nooks, etc., the paperback sized screens have been designed to be much easier on the eye. Better still, you can enlarge the typeface as required! That little trick alone makers e-readers worthy candidates, as early adopters have long known. Then again, e-books are a different experience, and difference takes time for some of us to adjust to.

Yet, there’s still that tactile quality. So far, nothing else gratifies the physical senses in the way a true book does. After all, books are real, physical things with a marvelous analogue quality to them. Quite aside from their incredible heritage, books also have a kind of sensuousness that is still lacking in their digital cousins.

So, what’s the problem? Can’t we have both and enjoy it all as we see fit? I hope so. But I can’t help feeling the future of traditional books is numbered. Gradually, mainstream will do away with them for purely monetary reasons. Don’t believe me? Well, there’s also the human side. Children growing up today don’t feel nearly so sentimental about the role of books as we do. Already, many older kids consider them slightly irrelevant as the Internet offers a much catchier way to grab their reading ability.

Of course, books will still be around. Just a lot less. They’ll become curiosities in the way LP records evoke passionate nostalgia and private smiles. Instead of books available, everywhere you may only see a few, here and there, kept as decorator items. Serious publishing will become electronic.

Should we care? My fondness for books says so. While the adaptive side of me says, perhaps we can reinvent and discover even better ways.  In any case, whatever you and I think about books, the push toward more efficient methods to access written content is well under way. So, hang onto your bookmarks and keep your dust jacket ready. The great book shakeup is in full swing (considering you’ve been reading this on your screen, and my book is out in both paperback and e-book forms, we’re moving quicker than we think).

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