Thursday, April 29, 2010

The End of Books

In the airport on our way to Chicago, my mother-in-law and I saw someone reading on a Kindle—Amazon’s e-book reader. Working in the publishing industry as I do, I had seen Kindles in the office before, but this was the first time I’d spotted one in the wild.

My MIL and I started talking about the notion of e-books and what that meant for traditional bound-paper books. I told her about the “smell of books” people who insist they will never read on an electronic device because the “experience” of reading a paper book is so sensual and whatnot. (As a congenital anosmic, I can’t appreciate the “smell” of books, but I definitely go wild over a velvety matte-finish cover, stroking it over and over and telling people, “just touch this!”)

Some people worry that e-readers mean “the end of books.” I disagree—a book is about content, not just packaging. Authors will still write stories and chapters of insights—you’ll just read them on a screen.

When we landed in Chicago and Matt’s cousin drove us back to his house, we saw a giant ad for the Apple iPad on the side of a building. (We saw iPad ads all over Chicago, actually—I guess that market is a bit more tech-savvy than Nashville). “It’s going to be the end of newspapers,” he said. But news stories will still be written—you’ll just read them on a screen.

“Nah, I would miss the smell of paper,” my sister-in-law said.

The next day as we shopped on Michigan Avenue, we popped into the Apple store, crowded with people trying out iPhones and Notebooks and all that jazz. I got to play with an iPad for a few minutes, and I sent Matt an e-mail from it—with great difficulty, since I am not too adept with touchscreens (not having an iPhone or anything myself). Despite the learning curve, however, I had the unmistakable feeling that I was holding the future of media in my hands. That one day—one day soon—we will all have a digital tablet on which to write e-mails, take notes, read books, watch movies, and access untold amounts of information through the Internet and various applications.

I don’t think paper books will ever really go away (just as bound journals and notebooks are still around, despite the popularity of blogs and Microsoft Word) but do I think e-books will definitely grow in popularity and become the norm. Though I’m not an early-adopter with any technology, I can definitely see getting on board with e-readers once the price comes down a little more. Easy access to countless titles and no additional bookshelves to babyproof—sounds like a win-win to me!

1 comment:

Sonya said...

I agree that traditional books probably won't go away! I have been back and forth about buying an e-reader, but I still like having the actual book in my hands! It would definitely help my bookshelf if I had less actual books.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin