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Will Computers Replace Paper?

Updated on March 3, 2008
Amazon's wireless digital reader, the Kindle.
Amazon's wireless digital reader, the Kindle.

We're reading newspapers online and keeping track of appointments in our Blackberries. The written letter is long gone, and now we're receiving more unwanted email than we ever did snail mail. My bills are paid automatically online, and I turn in much of my university work digitally.

So is it happening? Are computers replacing our need for paper?

I hope not.


Of course, things will naturally progress as technology becomes more developed, simpler to use, and cheaper so that everyone can buy it. When PDA (Personal Digital Assistant, for those of you who magically missed it) first came out, I remember a lot of people (especially adults) saying, "I'd rather just use a pen and my datebook." But as the technology got smaller and therefore easier to carry, simpler and therefore less intimidating to use, and cheaper and therefore more available, everyone's mind seemed to change.

Creationism doesn't really apply here; the iPod didn't materialize out of the air the first time someone said, "Hey, I'd like to bring my music with me!"

(Photos by Steve Woods)
(Photos by Steve Woods)

Will It Continue?

Cell phones used to be exclusively for high-paid businessmen, but now everyone and their dog has one. The same thing happens with pretty much every technology that comes out: people are skeptical but then warm up to it as its overwhelming convenience seems to take over.

eBooks have been around for a while, but they never seemed to catch on. Many people insisted it was because they wanted to be able to hold their books like a book and couldn't do so if they were reading off a computer screen.

So now Amazon has come out with the Kindle, which wirelessly receives newspapers, books, and magazine subscriptions, and other companies have been following suit.

Right now, I feel like most people are skeptical of this technology, but as usual it seems like that's just because it's new. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the Kindle; in fact, it will make traveling with reading material much simpler.

And skepticism is where all of this usually starts, but eventually these technologies are everywhere. This looks like it might follow the same path.

So are books doomed? Will we be receiving magazines via wireless internet and lining birdcages with fodder other than old newspapers?

The Future of Books...

Sure, saving paper will save some trees, and it'll save a lot of trees if we all switch to the Kindle and devices like it. I'm willing to bet, though, that the energy we'd all consume using and charging those devices would not be too much better for the environment.

I think there is great value in physical books, even beyond whatever words they may contain. I remember being a kid and opening my parents' huge unabridged dictionary for the first time, just to look. Even though it might be easier to look definitions up on the internet, the smell of that old book and its weight on the stand are worth having around.

I love buying a new book or going into the library with a list of books for school. I love slowly growing my book collection as I get older. I even just love being in bookstores. I honestly cannot stand the thought of these things eventually being gone from my world because of technology.

I hope I'm not alone.

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    • profile image

      Sam 8 years ago

      Well it is according to an Evolution by this century and this universe, It can be removed . Think about the times when you have to send messages writing in a cave than The Ancient Egyptians Invented the papers, Than Chinese than all over the world.I guess it can be replaced but i don't think books are better than computers because you will never find A Reliable Source or any of it. Now as you can see how are we writing the comment? With the computers Arent We? Think about it guys.

    • profile image

      TomTheBoy88 8 years ago

      books r history he he. i mean look at all the school/collegfe books students have to carry round. What about professionals who could have hundreds of books at there disposal anytime? books will be kind of a cute retrospective thing like black'n white photos. but yeah readng a real book is nicer. thumbing through pages is relaxng. they'll be a home thing for the better books, like u might buy a dvd of a good movie.

      Those who ignore the trnd will be left behind cause of info gap.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      I'll hold out with you and keep reading paper books, too. Stay strong, Seamus! :D

    • seamus profile image

      seamus 10 years ago

      I love paper books. I like my computer but I'd never read a book on it unless I had no other choice. Even then, I'd not like it.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      But cgull8m and Wendy... What about where we're getting the power to charge these electronics? Are we creating nuclear waste with it? Burning coal or oil or gas? At least we can recycle paper.

      Thanks for weighing in!

    • Wendy08 profile image

      Wendy08 10 years ago

      I agree with cgull8m it will save trees and I know for sure that paper won't be gone forever, it will always be with us.

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

      If it saves trees then it is good, I think we will adapt with time.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      I think you're right, Whitney. They won't disappear, but it will be so outdated to use them... Books are something I will be very sad to see go, though I wouldn't mind taking in-class essay exams on a laptop.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 10 years ago from Georgia

      Sadly, I do think that we're moving towards a more computer based world. I don't think that books and newspapers will ever be completely replaced, but they will become old fashioned. Maybe over several more years and a few more generations, books and paper reads will slowly fade out, but I think it will take time. I mean, I can't force myself to by a Kindle just yet. I like to feel the pages turn as I read.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Ooh, you're right, excellasys! I LOVE getting the paper every day and being able to open it, refold it, and then read it. I can't imagine reading a newspaper on a Kindle. Thanks for weighing in!

    • profile image

      excellasys 10 years ago

      I think the same idea could be applied to a print newspaper, I can't imagine not having a paper in the morning to sift though before I'm off to work.


    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 10 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks, Steph! I also love being able to share books with friends. Something about reading something meaningful from the same pages they read can be really nice.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Yes, I agree. Who can resist having a first edition of any published book? That will always be valuable. Great hub....