The Extinction of Paper Books

It’s hard to believe how plausible it is becoming that old-fashioned books may soon be just as obsolete as VHS tapes, regular (non-flatscreen) televisions, and other items that your kids will soon be asking, “Daddy, what’s that?” as if they have just seen an ancient object from the stone age.

The wave of the future.

While it may be easy to see how VHS Tapes will soon vanish into oblivion like Betamax, how is it that books, which have always seemed to be timeless, may actually have a shelf-life?

What a world we would live in when the son or daughter asks you what that object is, and they are pointing to a book.

More and more we are seeing people with their e-book devices as they wait in doctor’s waiting rooms, as they relax in their seat during a flight, or sitting on a bench in the park.

E-books are gaining in popularity because they are getting more affordable, more available, and more attractive. If they are cheaper than regular books, won’t authors be upset? Actually, in most cases authors love them because they can make more money per item than traditional books due to publishing costs.

E-books have now been around for a long time and speculating about the death of the paper book has likely been going on for years. However, just recently I read something that upped the ante on the whole premise.

IKEA, the Sweetish furniture company with the huge warehouse-like store that we easily can get lost in, is marketing bookcases not for the purposes of storing books, but, well, anything else.

A new version of its classic BILLY Bookcase will debut soon.

Coming out next month, the tweaked bookcase will feature deeper shelves meant to display “ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome — anything, this is, except books,” the Economist reported.

I suppose we soon won’t be able to call them bookcases. It will turn into something awkward like, “coffeetable shelf” or some similar nonsense that marketers will at some point eat up.

IKEA  is already pushing glass doors for its bookshelves, anticipating that customers will increasingly utilize bookcases for decorative purposes, the report said.

Sales of e-books in America finally surpassed those of adult hardbacks in the first five months of the year, and online retailer reported that it sells more digital books than ones printed on paper.

Borders, the once mega-giant book seller located everywhere, is now liquidating their stores. I just visited Borders a week ago that was closing 9 days later and the place was packed due to the 60% off (or better) sales they had in order to empty the place.

Will the paper book soon be as extinct as the Dodo bird? Is this a bad thing for bookworms? Is this a good thing for treehuggers? Will libraries soon be places to borrow E-books?

It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out in the next decade or two. We may soon be telling our grandchildren about those antiquated little things that people used to pay 30 bucks for and wait in long lines for and be able to use without battery power or electricity and—

I feel old already.


One Response to The Extinction of Paper Books

  1. BroganTDB says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with my Nook. I love the fact that I can store and take hundreds of books with me where ever I go. I like that it’s light weight and that I can make the font bigger so I don’t need my reading glasses. Yes my Nook has many convenient and positive features… However, that the books are in an electronic format they are susceptible to censoring like print books are not. Let’s say some government stuffed shirt or some self righteous religious group decides they don’t want you reading some thing in a book or want to insert their own message. All they would have to do is electronically change the text and upon your next power up a wireless “Up date” occurs changing the original text or wiping the book off your device period. This can not happen with printed material. You would need to track down every last copy of that book to suppress what was written. Then one needs a device to read the book. No power, no reading. This will have an impact on human history also. We know a lot of our past from the writings we have found. Weather they were the clay tablets of ancient Sumerian or scrolls and manuscripts found in graves and ruins. They survived and were readable because they were in print and not on a delicate electronic device. The writings were not copy protected or in one format or another that needed a specific device to read them. Do you think we would have the story of Gilgamesh if it were on a broken flash drive instead of a broken clay tablet? Besides… I find it comforting thumbing through a book… Smelling the mustiness of those printed pages (the older the book the better)… feeling the texture of the book in your hands is soothing… no bells, batteries and bright lights, no special effects or game controllers… My imagination will conjure special effects better than Hollywood ever could; my hands are the controllers that turn the pages. And how can any Foley artist come up with a sound to convey a “thunderous silence?” So look for me under a shady tree… that’s where I’ll be, just me, my mind and my book going on to my next adventure. I personally don’t see the printed book leaving us. They can be augmented with the new medium but never replaced.

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