Friday, December 05, 2008

Are books a dying breed?

As a voracious bibliophile, I found this article from the New York Times just a bit unnerving.

The article discusses the possible oblivion of the printed book as we know it. In a world of increasing technology, many objects are becoming obsolete. The article author mentions the music industry...the LP, the 8-track, the cassette tape and even the CD...all being phased out slowly for new technology.

I actually had a semi-related conversation with my co-workers today. One co-worker mentioned that he probably hasn't purchased an actual "physical" CD for at least 3-5 years. Instead, he purchases his music through iTunes for digital download and use on his computer, iPod, etc. I, on the other hand, have purchased CDs in the last month. I like the tangibility of them as well as the album art and disk insert.

As to books, I'm glad that the article author didn't paint a terribly grim picture, but rather suggested that books are (hopefully) around for the long haul.

Even though many of us in this generation spend a large portion of our time reading and writing on an electronic screen, there is a need to hold a book in your hands and read it. Some books can and should be digitized (phone books, reference material, etc.), but at the same time, it's often easier to pick up the book than to boot up the computer or smart phone and start up the material. Usually, if I have immediate access to my computer and to a phone book, it's sixes as to which comes up with the answer faster. The advantage (or disadvantage if it slows productivity) to using the web to look things up is that often you'll be presented with lots of other information that's more up to date.

But in terms of novels....books that you read for entertainment, enlightenment or sometimes even for new knowledge...technology can't yet match the ability to turn page after page and bring the words to you. I also find that if I'm reading something that I want to mark up, it's much easier to pull out a pen and write on the page than it is to make annotations in an e-reader or a webpage (I guess I could open up a separate doc for while I'm reading). Even though I have audio-books, I don't generally listen to them before I've actually read the book. Usually the audio-books are for a long road trip.

In my house, we probably spend $50-100 each month on books. It's bad enough to see cool and classy "corner bookstores" having trouble. I hate to think of the actual "book" dying out.

What do you think? Are books prepping to go the way of the 8-track? Should I go grab a kindle or some other e-reader? Or are books going to withstand the technology whirlwind?

6 comments:

Beth Kephart said...

As long as we out here, we lovers of real in-our-hands books, keep showing a demand for the real thing, we will get the real thing, I suspect. I hope so, anyway.

Okie said...

I truly hope so

Kevin said...

I think that the new technologies like the Kindle will continue to progress and the actual number of paper books published will decrease. However, I don't see in any near future a total disappearance of paper books. I actually think this may be a good trend in a way. Have you been in a bookstore lately? There is a lot of crap there. A lot. Maybe this trend will reduce the inventory of paper books to only those truly great titles etc.
That is my hope. Then it might be easier for me to find something I want to read in the bookstore. As it is now walking into Barnes and Noble is overwhelming.

mariposa said...

Wow, I think it would be terrible if books with real pages stopped existing. However, I don't think they will stop exsisting because many people do like them and also because libraries promote them. Nice post :)

Tiddly Inks said...

Truly, how dreadful would it be to snuggle down with your child in bed and "watch" or "listen to" a book. No, no, no....books are here to stay. I couldn't stand it without the feel of gorgeous soft aged paper that makes a sound when you turn it. Frightful! LOL

Thanks for the Farenheit 451-induced nightmarish thought, but let's vote to keep books---maybe only in small owner bookshops that serve great cocoa and have comfortable chairs. tehe

PS: Cool online name. Are you from Muskogee? just teasing:)

Jcsamgwallace said...

Wow, I love to read too but your list is truly amazing. You mentioned other games besides "Catan". We have been looking for another good one. What would yous suggest?