Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

~ William James ~

The Book Is Dead

August 16th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 28 secs

Books may be magical to me and you but what do young people think?

Books may be magical to me and you but what do young people think?

Yes, incredibly, the book is dead. Long live the book!

How can books be gone, you ask? Well I don’t have any empirical evidence in this post to show you. But I do have plenty that’s anecdotal.

Watching the phenomenon we fondly know as the local bookshop dwindling, it seems the writing is well and truly on the wall for this form of mass retailing.

How many bookstores have closed down over the past few years? That’s right, many. Despite the fact plenty of people prefer hardcopy books to read, bookstores are disappearing. Meanwhile, we are told, online book sales are soaring.

But is that all there is to the book story: a shift in buying patterns?  I don’t think so.

The rise and rise of eBooks is having an effect that pundits have long predicted. Being cheaper, and with a few tricks up ereaders’ sleeves, the advent of the eBook as an accepted medium has arrived. But is that the end of the story of traditional books as we know them?

To find out the answer, you need to go into high school libraries to see something striking. Where students once gladly picked up a few books whilst shuffling around the shelves, hardly a hardcopy gets touched, much less read. Regardless of how well stocked school libraries are, if there’s a Wi-Fi network in place and computers to use, books become the last option.

Young people don’t want to read hardcopy books anymore. It seems the Internet and computer games have taken their place.

Not that kids are reading classics online or delving into much eBook reading as an alternative. Now they are occupying their time with other pursuits, like movies, social media, games, and the Web.

Apparently, after an initial flush of enthusiasm for reading paper-based books in their childhood years, teens quickly move away to Internet engagement, leaving books behind as a largely forgotten form.

Oh yes, you’re right. There are definitely exceptions. Some teens are hooked on real to touch paper books and bless them for all for it. But they are the minority against a massive shift in thinking that nobody even thought to predict.

Yes, I fear the book is dead or, at least, it’s on its last legs. Like vinyl records you’ll always be able to hunt down the odd copy. But the structured form on paper has lost its appeal for the most crucial audience of all: the next generation.

Like you, I’m sad about that. I adore books, and I’m not sure the new forms of web-based engagement are really a better alternative. Books demand standards from writers, publishers, and readers alike. Perhaps losing that form reflects the increasing move to multitasking and short-term concentration. “Give it to me in bite sized bits that I can readily grasp or forget it”. And it seems they are forgetting it.

Give me sustained engagement and concentration any day. Without them, I believe we cannot come up with the ideas that the future needs. So somewhere soon I expect there’ll be some serious soul searching. Because the way we think is important to every area of our lives. Books have successfully given us form to structure our thinking and use our own imaginings to fill in the gaps.

Get ready then for a showdown sometime within the next few years when the consequences kick in. Undoubtedly, it’s sure to be a real page-turner.

Happy Children’s Books

How Can Your Children Succeed At Reading?

Are Books Still Better?


Comments are closed.