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The Demise of Print?

February 4, 2011

So here we are, slowly working our way through the 2nd decade of the 21st century, where technology is king.  We tweet, we Facebook, we link in.  Our smart phones seem smarter than we are and our laptops are evolving into tablets.  “Don’t Text and Drive” is the new mantra of our youth, replacing our generation’s “Just Say No”.  The 2011 Academy Award nominations include a film about the meteoric rise of a social networking site built on the tenacity of a computer geek.  Yes, it’s a new reality for many of us, just as television engendered a new reality for many of our relatives.

We have talked before about the demise of the CD and DVD in light of new forms of electronic distribution, but what about the demise of a much older friend – the book?  Now that eBooks are surpassing sales of hard covers on Amazon and six of the top 50 Christmas bestsellers were eBooks, is the printed book going away?  After all,  eBooks are generally cheaper than their traditional counterparts, and they can be downloaded to join a library of their brethren on anyone’s electronic reader.  Which makes them more portable and accessible for travelers and people on the go.

As always, there are those who are reluctant to put down their paperback and opt for an eBook instead (myself included).  After all, to book lovers, the written word is sacred.  We can get lost in the library or bookstore for hours, browsing the shelves and reading jackets.  We like curling up with a good book on a rainy afternoon or soaking in the tub with our favorite title.  (There’s ONE place, an e-reader probably shouldn’t go!)   And yet…knowing that I can download new titles or old favorites to my iPad for that next long flight to Europe is awfully tempting.    Or being productive on that next trip and catching up on the latest business information.  Not to mention the ability to read textbooks in electronic form, instead of having to lug those giant things around (not that I’m planning on going back to school any time in the near future, but still…).

Yes, technology is king and the introduction of a growing number of electronic tablets this year will render us even more dependent upon it.  eBooks will likely become the norm as they continue to filter into the market.  Publishers and book printers will join the rest of us in refocusing their energies and learning how to adapt to the changing times.   Book lovers will succumb to the lure of the Kindle, Nook and Readers of the day, and hard copy sales will continue to erode.  Yet, I choose to believe that my beloved books will still be available when I want them.  After all, climbing into bed with my favorite tablet just doesn’t have quite the same comforting effect as opening my book where I left off, turning back the pages and sinking into the pillows.

Ahh…if only I were there now… Happy reading everyone!  (No matter how you view it!) 

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