Having survived 500 years of technological upheaval, Gutenberg's invention may withstand the digital onslaught as well.
There's something about a crisply printed, tightly bound book that we don't seem eager to let go of. Holding a book in my hand and the visceral act of physically turning a page that, for me at least, can't be matched with pixels on a screen.
Printed books are universal – anyone can read them today or at any point in the foreseeable future. What guarantees are there that you’ll still be able to read the Kindle book you pay for today in five or ten years time? Will you have to buy a fresh library if a device comes along to displace the Kindle?
Books are timeless. When you present a book as a gift, you do not have to worry about it going out of fashion. Also you cannot loan an eBook to a friend without physically giving them your e-reader, which really isn't an option.
Somehow, books are not the same when they are in electronic format. Perhaps one day in the future when e-books become obsolete and are replaced with even more high-tech alternatives, the children of this generation will say the same.
And so I hope that printed books never die. I doubt they will anytime soon; convenience has not killed other markets but made those markets revisit their roots. Perhaps the eBook revolution will ask publishing to reinvent itself and we will all come out for the better.
When the machines go dark we’ll need a written record of all that has transpired here.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
~~ Haruki Murakami
|British Library, Camden, London, July 2008|
|Picture from Pinterest|