Long Live the Book

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Books have been around longer than almost any other form of entertainment or scholarship. Other forms have undergone change several times within a life time. Music went from vinyl to eight-tracks to cassettes to CDs and now to mp3s. Movies went from theater only to VHS to DVD to Blu-ray and now to digital copy. But books? Books have, more or less, remained in the same format now for hundreds of years. But now, in a time of great change and technology, when everything seems to be updating and redesigning every year, there is a comfort to reading something that has outlasted. Take the iPhone for an example. The iPhone 5 will be released in the next couple of months but when was the first iPhone released? Only five years ago. Something that has become such an integral part of our society is already on its 5th edition in only the same amount of years. I think that the “lingering hegemony of print” is so dominant because of its lasting effect.

This reason is also why I believe some people are resistant to e-books. We spend so much of our time now in front of screens – computer screens, TVs, laptops, tables, and cell-phones. I believe there is a comfort to sitting down with something that has stood the test of time. Something that is enjoyable but disconnected from the rushed pace of our world. I also believe it’s connected to how people view technology. Some might view technology as a way to make our lives better, to advance out of poverty, sickness, pollution, etc. Others might take the Wall-E approach. They might see technology progressing so far until it renders us fat, stationary, and helpless without it. Reading printed books is kind of like sticking it to technology. Rebelling against our fast paced world.

In the end though, e-books will take over. In order to help this along I can think of two things that need to be considered. One is money. E-readers, though less expensive today, are still very pricey. Much of our country and the world still live in poverty and cannot afford e-readers. Their education can only come from printed books. And so it may take awhile for e-books to reach everyone. The other consideration is the appearance of books. Many hearty book lovers like the look of books. They like having bookshelves filled with their books. It’s as much a form of decoration as it is a longing for printed books. If there could be a way to display the titles in your Kindle library onto a wall or shelf, I think people would be much more willing to drop their attachment to printed books.



Abby's picture

A User's Experience

I don't believe that user experience has been fully considered when it comes to e-readers and e-books. The "lingering hegemony of print" has taken the familiar experience of print and reading and converted it into pixels. But in a way, reading a digitized book from a Kindle or iPad doesn't offer a unique experience. In order to break the attachment to print, I feel e-books or e-texts need to create a new experience or, at least, an experience that you cannot get from reading a printed text. The technology is available; it just needs to be harnessed in order to offer something a print book can't.