The death of the book is upon us, apparently…again. The book has been in grave danger so many times it must feel somewhat persecuted, perhaps we should consider the book to be more resilient than we give it credit for However so, the relatively new phenomena of e-books and the success of Amazon’s Kindle is throwing the world of publishing and reading into a whole new age of controversy and turmoil.
I continue to be resolutely old school when it comes to reading, and it’s quite unlike me to side against technology, however in this case I can’t help but do just that (to some extent).
I love books, and I like to collect books. I confess that I am one of those people who hoard and display books strategically on my bookshelf, although only ones I have actually read as a general rule. This is a disadvantage of e-books, there is no public display strategy. There is, however, a limit to how many Ikea bookshelves a person can fit in their house. Eventually you will run out of space, e-books are undeniably a helpful space-saving strategy.
Saying that, it’s the smell of a book and the feeling of accomplishment when you finish a read. I’m not saying you could never get a similar feeling from an e-book, but it can’t be the same, and that’s my issue. Paper books are better in practice. Maybe a Kindle could have the personality of a book, though in a different way. In the same way that an iPod is personal to you, a Kindle can be that too. Your iPod doesn’t replace all of your music, it just makes it easier to take it with you. In it are the memories of all the stories that have been read, the places it’s been taken and the feelings the owner has had whilst using it. A book might have that effect but a Kindle can do that hundreds of times over and that’s where it has the edge.
Meanwhile, iBooks, Kindle books, and other forms of digital books will continue to be produced, make more content more available to more people (and children) than ever before, and perhaps they’ll recapture some of the magic of mediums past – but not just yet.
“It’s close, but it looks like owning 200 real books has the edge over the Kindle. Still, given our love for shiny toys, I suspect this has done little to damper your desire for one — no matter how useless it will prove to be once the zombies have taken over the world.” – Allan Mott