This is the ongoing question that seems to stump most of us. I for one love books in both their e-book and paper book forms.
But it is obvious that the internet is so deeply entrenched within our culture, that it has become a regular part of our life and identity. We rely on the internet to talk to each other, share videos, edit videos, listen to music, watch movies and, yes, read.
The technology we experience today is an all-encompassing medium that has made things like printed paper seem, well, a tad wasteful. Letter writing has already gone the way of the dinosaur. Music stores have suffered in the age of the internet as well, with people pirating their songs and downloading music for free, rather than spending £14.99 on a physical copy of their beloved album. The CD is being replaced by iCloud, the map is being replaced by GPS and Sat Nav…
So what about books? Will they get replaced eventually?
The realist in me says yes, unfortunately. After all, what reason is there to buy books when we can store hundreds or even thousands of books on a single iPad or Kindle? For convenience’s sake alone, it seems logical to purchase our books online.
And yet, there is definitely a romantic and quite poignant appeal that comes with holding a book, for a lot of people. Turning the page is an act which connects us with the world we are reading. It is a gesture which requires our curiosity and attention in the story at hand. With an iPad or a similar device, the temptation to simultaneously browse the web whilst reading is real struggle. I should know. With every word that I don’t quite understand, or with each turn of phrase that doesn’t quite make sense, I find myself opening an internet browser and scrupulously searching for the answers to my impatient questions. But the very act of doing this shatters the escapism one associates with reading a book. I find myself trying to pick up where I left off far too often when I’m reading from a screen!
I also find that the very ethereal existence of our e-books creates a disconnection. Sure, the e-book exists, but we can’t touch an e-book, or smell it, or hold it. Pixels just don’t possess any of the warmth or tangibility of a good hardback. Maybe I’m just a nostalgic idiot, but books also remind me of the past too, like vinyl. Books may go the way of vinyl and become precious collectors items of infinite worth to their owners. Maybe the e-book and the book can coexist harmoniously and the Pixel vs Paper war doesn’t even have to happen! E-books could rid us of cheap, mass market abominations like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey (sorry Meyer and E.L James fans!) and further people’s admiration for well-produced, high-quality books.
The future of the paperback/hardback is an uncertain one for sure.
We could lose them forever, or have them around forever.
Personally, I can only sit here and hope for the latter option.