Thursday, March 29, 2012

Death of the Book

Today's topic for our Thursday blog post is:

Books, magazines, paper publications are all available for our perusal now online through the Internet, E-readers, etc. This poses a huge threat for our libraries and book stores. Where do you feel these technological advancements are headed? Will hard copies be a thing of the past? What are your feelings about our print future?

This topic is very timely.  On March 12th, Encyclopedia Britannica announced that they will no longer publish encyclopedias.  But, before you shed a tear for them, their electronic business is thriving.  You can carry all the volumes of an encyclopedia in your e-reader.  This is certainly not an option if the material is printed.

Some other fun facts, on Christmas day Amazon sold more down loadable books than actual books.  Now, it is Christmas day and folks were probably downloading books on to their new e-readers.  But, it is still notable.  Amazon's Kindle was the most gifted item during the last holiday season.

The facts are that the trend is towards on-line content.  In California, all college text books must have an online version by 2020.  This will help make text books cheaper, but it also makes it easier for students to access the material.  They can search for that one fact that they are looking for.  They can access the book online if it is needed and the physical book is lost or at home. 

Even my 6th grader has access to most of his text books online.  It is great to not have to lug a heavy textbook home every day to use for homework.  I wish the school would give the kids tablets.  They could access their books, use an app for a graphing calculator, etc.

Printed media has been around for over 500 years, and the technology is unchanged.  Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable type setting machine, the father of the Printing Revolution, could come to today, he would still be able to use a book.  All technologies eventually end, and the printed book is going to give way to the digital book.

Part of the question is, what do I think about that?  I have mixed feelings, I love that I can get a book I want as soon as I want it.  I don't have to go to the store to buy it.  But, I also like to browse through a book, look at it to get a feel for what it is about.  It is much harder to do that with a digital book.  At the end of the day, how I feel about it is irrelevant.  The train has left the station and it ain't stoppin' now.

I will be the last person on the block who sits down every morning to read the newspaper.  I love my paper.  My kids will fire up their smart phones or tablets and read the news.  It is how it will be.  My mother reads books on her Kindle.  It truly is the end of era. 

Remember, you read this electronically.  Want to read the other electronic opinions?  Check them out at: Froggie, Momarock, and Merrylandgirl


  1. interesting perspective. but leave steve gutenberg out of it. he's just an actor from the 80's. :)

  2. Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable typsetting machine in the early 1400's. It enabled mass production of printed material. Prior to that all printed material was created by hand, it was slow and didn't enable the masses to have books.