While I love technology, I don’t think these e-books will ever “beat out” their ancestral paper books. Recently I was just thinking of random ideas; I wondered if it would be possible that in the future we would have no use for paper, and that it would be “outdated” technology. However I quickly dispatched this notion simply by thinking of all the great books I’ve held in my hand from “The Namesake” to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” I quickly came to the conclusion that even if paper documents, notes, and school textbooks go out of style, a good book would not.
Why would I write a letter when I can send an e-mail? Who needs a 250$ textbook when you can get the downloadable pdf version for 50 dollars or less? Why would I spend money on a paper spiral notebook when I can just use a stylus to write on my smartpad for free? Now without getting too technical, I understand there are some cases where writing a letter is more formal and nicer than just an e-mail. Also that some people prefer writing on paper since they don’t have a smartpad. However I’m talking about much further into the future when these smartpads become dirt cheap and is available to everybody, as they probably will. Documents can be signed online, tremendous amounts of information can be stored safer (debatable) and with potentially more organization than paper documents. One thing that I think will never “go out of style” is the good old fashion hardback or paperback book filled with hundreds of sheets of wood pulp.
One day when I was attempting to go pass out resumes to various businesses, many major companies simply would not accept them in paper form. Perhaps they’re too busy, perhaps it saves time, but I thought to myself man, maybe I’m starting to get old and fall behind on the times, or maybe I just want to present myself in person. Regardless the idea that so much that used to be done on paper, can be done electronically really entered my mind that day. Could paper be out of style one day? I pondered this question for a while, then thought probably not, I think people will always want BOOKS.
Even if people begin signing their lives away on contracts electronically, or no one ever buys a spiral notebook for class again, or textbooks become no longer available in paper form, I think books will always be “classic.” First of all, I fear the health consequences of having an “electronic book” in my lap. Sure there isn’t enough significant data to prove what I’m about to say, but I personally fear them, and I’m sure others out there are cautious of these issues too.
Let’s say I’m uncomfortable even keeping my keys and cell phone in my pocket for fear of the effect it may have on my future offspring. Every once in a while I do keep a laptop on my lap, however I try to minimize these things as much as possible. I also refuse to believe that electronic screens don’t harm your vision. Now if I was a much more avid reader, the last thing I would want in my lap is one of these electronic books that hook me into staring at it for hours on end.
Health rant aside, I think paper books will never go out of style. Books show sophistication, education, and knowledge. Some have collections of books but have only read a few of them (I am partially guilty of this myself). Regardless, those who truly enjoy reading probably won’t get into ebooks. I think they are just a fad. Those who truly enjoy reading like holding a tome in their hands as they flip through the pages entrenched in story. They like the feeling of the thickness of pages traveling from your right hand to left hand (depending on the country). They like the feeling of collecting books, storing them on a bookshelf, and having people see what they’ve read over the years. With e-books, they lose almost all of this. No one can see what you’ve read. You don’t get the sensation of flipping through pages. It just isn’t the same sense of completion. Ultimately I feel in the case that I am wrong, and e-books do become the norm, PAPER novels will become extremely expensive (since demand might be low), but those who truly love and seek knowledge will pay a high price for “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn”, the story of “Jane Eyre”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, or the epic “Odyssey.”
Conclusion? The book business will be here to stay, just not the same as it used to be.