Post #4: Is the Book Here to Stay?

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In chapter five, Bolter discusses the digital technology of electronic books. With full texts available on our lap tops and hand held reading devices, it is easy to see how the book might be in danger of becoming obsolete. However, I believe that actual printed materials such as books, magazines, and newspapers will survive for many generations to come. Magazines and newspapers will face extinction long before books are ever threatened because the Internet is much more effective at instantly providing the most up to date news. Still, many people agree that there is just something more enjoyable about holding the actual object in their hand as opposed to reading off an electronic screen.

I do think that we will see a shift towards more people using digital technologies for reading as they become more widely availiable. Devices like the Nook could be very helpful for college students. Instead of having to buy and sell back books each semester at the bookstore, not to mention having to haul them to and from class, students could rent the materials they needed for the semester on to their Nook. I can see this becoming a reality for students in the not so distant future. Personally, I find it much easier to read and take notes from a book compared to reading articles off the Internet. There is just something about being able to physically handle the material that makes it more substantial.

There are a lot of people that agree with me about having a better reading experience with books instead of digital technology. This is why the book is here to stay. There are many physical qualities a book posseses which are not available through electronic readers. You can quickly toss a book to the side if you need a break from reading. You can actually feel your progress as the weight of the book shifts from unread pages to read pages. You can show off your book collection by displaying them in your home or office. These are just some of the characteristics that add to the aesthetic appeal of reading a book compared to reading electronic texts. All in all, their sales and printing numbers may decline, but the book will withstand the digital revolution.

2 Comments

I think the price of bringing books to market will become more and more prohibitive and lack of profits will kill the 'hardcopy' book.
Since December, I own and use a Kindle and have found that for me taking notes is superior because It creates a notes file I can download or email complete with references to the material that I'm making note of. I can also search the book, which I cannot do very easily with a paper book. I love that feature.
And since you mentioned weight, I currently have almost a hundred books on my Kindle and I think it will hold as many as 1500. I've read two novels on it and my wife tried it for one novel, and we both found it very nice and convenient. It automatically bookmarks my current reading position, and I could add as many additional bookmarks as I desire.
I also have a house full of books, and don't find the paper book superior. They take up a lot of space, are heavy and, I can't take my hardcopy library with me anywhere I go.
I don't need to show off my book collection because I use them for my own pleasure or for reference, which I can do more easily on the Kindle. If only I could get them all in electronic format!
I would bet though that the used book market may be around for quite a while as people dump their books for electronic versions. That's my plan anyway, probably along with the millions of people who have purchased e-book readers just in the past few months.
I think used paper books will withstand the digital revolution because once printed they cannot become anything else but a paper book.
Hope you get a chance to try one for an extended period of time. I love it and look forward to using it more than paper books as more material becomes available.
John

You bring up an interesting point about textbooks: even though ebooks would be much easier for students in some ways, it might be more inconvenient in other ways, such as taking notes and having a sense of what has been read. Christina Haas includes a great study in Writing Technologies about the screen not providing a "sense of text" in the same way that pring materials do. I think that is what you are talking about to some extent.

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This page contains a single entry by aleck015 published on February 14, 2010 10:29 PM.

Blog Post #3 Technological Determinism was the previous entry in this blog.

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