Real Readers will always buy Real Books
Real Books are best
When a new technology arrives, there is always hysteria. The doom sayers are always prophesying, like Chicken Licken, that the sky will fall. When television became popular, the doom sayers prophesied that television’s popularity would mean nobody would listen to radio any more. When video appeared, the same doom sayers prophesied that it would mean that people would no longer go to the cinema. Neither of these prophesies were borne out by events. The same is true of those doom sayers, who predict that e books mean that real books will disappear.
Currently e-books are new and, therefore, trendy. Just as with any novelty, there is much hype over e books. However, just as there are still radio listeners and cinema goers, there will always be readers, who will buy real books, rather than e books and digital readers. Even in hard economic times, real readers still prefer real books to electronic versions.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports that the real book is dead are much exaggerated. The publishing industry will change, just as television changed the radio industry, and video technology changed the cinema industry, but the real book will not disappear.
After all, one only has to examine the recent revival in vinyl records to understand that, even when it appears that the public have taken a new technology in their droves, when they discover the new technology’s shortcomings, they return to the tried and true. Compact discs were thought indestructible, ever-lasting, and better than vinyl records. However, time proved that CDs, in practice, did not live up to the theory. The information on CDs breaks down, you can destroy them, and, as music aficionados will tell you, the music that comes from them is just not as good as that from an old-fashioned vinyl record.
E books have their shortcomings and these are already coming to the fore. It is likely that more snags will become apparent as they are more commonly used. One disadvantage of e books, which has been much in the news lately is that you cannot read all digitized books on one reader and that you would need to buy several different e readers to read all the digital books available. E books have different formats. Real books are all in the same format and readers can access all books.
A reader can take a real book anywhere, it never runs out of batteries, you do not need to load a real book and need no internet connection. Traditional books never blink off just as the most exciting part of the book is reaching a climax. Campaigners for digital reading state the e books are greener than traditional books. However, the readers that one needs to access digital books are certainly not green. They contain heavy metals and how long before the current e-readers are obsolete? E readers need batteries. For these reasons, E readers are not really green.
Most books these days are made from recycled paper. When you buy a real book, it is yours forever if you want it. You can put it on the bookshelf and admire your collection. If you do not want to keep a book, you can give it to a friend, donate it to a charity, or sell it second-hand on line. Real books need not end up in landfill, unlike obsolete e readers and their spent batteries.
Digital files degrade over time, whereas real books can last centuries. You can read a real book on a plane, even when taking off and landing, but the flight attendant will tell you to turn off your e-reader. Dropping a book into the bath, is sad but not a calamity, dropping an e-reader into the bath means that a very expensive piece of equipment is ruined and you may have lost your whole library, depending on which e reader you use. Real books can be very useful, for propping up the settee, smoothing crumpled documents, or drying flowers. A book can safely be left in the car or in the sun.
Avid readers prefer the feel and look of a book. They enjoy the sight of books on their book shelves, avid readers gaze at their bookshelves much as a miser appreciates gold. Gazing at a screen is impersonal and excludes the reader from the story a printed book is more personal, including the reader in the book. Avid readers devour books, and read a great deal, reading a whole book, in one sitting, which many avid readers often do, would be very trying on the eyes. Books are cheap you can buy paperbacks or second-hand books very cheaply. What would antiquarian book collectors do if books disappeared – there are no old or rare e readers.
There is room for both printed books and e-readers. One does not have to mean the death of the other. The publishing industry will change, in many ways, but books will be around for centuries to come.