Why Printed Books Will Endure

Even with the explosion in popularity of e-books and readers, it's unlikely that printed books will fade away anytime soon.
I'm not a fan of e-books or Kindles or any of the other e-book readers that are out there. I don't have any particular problem with them, per se, but for me, it's just too much of the same. Because I spend the majority of my working day sitting in front of a monitor and reading or writing electronic text on the screen, I really don't have any particular interest in reading entire books in the same format. Part of the escape of reading a book is the ability to take it with you anywhere you want to go and enter and exit the story as you please. E-books, of course, also provide this luxury to readers. And, e-books also offer the added advantage of essentially owning only one book, but one that "becomes" whatever type of book you want to read at the moment. And several books can be on the same reader at the same time, so you have an unprecedented level of flexibility with e-books and e-readers.

But I can't get away from the idea that Kindle and the like are to reading what treadmills are to walking or running. Obviously, people can run on treadmills and get a very similar experience to what they get if they were running outside. But people still run outside and they always will. There is something about the experience of actually being outside that is always going to draw people. There will also always be times when a treadmill is more convenient or simply makes more sense. But even people who "always" run on treadmills will find themselves walking or running outdoors from time to time.

I think that's basically where we're headed with e-books and traditional printed books. There is nothing right or wrong about either one and there are some subtle advantages and disadvantages to each. But there will always be a need for people to have printed books and - from now on - there will often be a desire by people to get better e-readers for their e-books. The two items will co-exist, perhaps forever.

As more and more people find themselves in jobs that require large amounts of screen time, it may be that people - myself included - tend toward traditional printed books. The printed book, for me, is a welcome break from staring at the back-lit illumination of the computer monitor. But, I'm in my late 30s, so I was not raised with smartphones and other handheld devices on which people perform all of their communication. The generation behind me is going to be much more likely to embrace e-readers because it is all they have known. Reading large amounts of copy on small screens is all they know, so continuing with is going to come naturally.

But at the end of the day, there is a visceral experience that comes with reading an actual printed book that can't be captured with an e-reader. Holding the actual book, seeing the cover, feeling its weight, associating parts of the book with physical sections of pages you've memorized. All of that plays into the enjoyment of book reading for people of my generation and those that came before me. I just don't think that it will ever go away for good. Everyone uses Facebook, but they still talk to people in person. I guess its kind of like that.
By iBuzzle Staff
Last Updated: 10/4/2011
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