Why Books and Printed Materials Will Never Go Away

Ladies and gentleman, it is the dawn of a new era. Technology is on the scene with guns blazing and is taking names. What does this mean for older traditions and methodology like books and magazines? Extinction! Disrepute! Annihilation! ALL THE ABOVE!

If you marked a, b, c, or d, you are…wrong! Trends, public scrutiny, and some experts have led the public to generally believe that the advent of the iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc. signal the demise of written civilization as we know it. Is it lamented? No.

However, it’s not true. Let me warn you before continuing on. I am one person with my own viewpoint in a world of billions of people. Trusted and established scholars and professionals in the literary world disagree as to what the future will hold for printed material, and unless I am hopelessly misinformed, no one can REALLY predict the future. The majority of those speaking out do seem to announce the extermination in the next quarter century; a half century at the latest. The arguments below mark my own sentiments and thoughts on the topic and maybe some quick research, reading, and personal experiences to supplement those feelings.

Listed here are not reasons that ensure the success and survival of printed material, but rather, they are strong points to note and consider.

1. People like books and printed material. There is nothing quite like opening up a new crisp book and ruffling through the pages. More importantly, I don’t think there is an application, as of yet, for e-books or downloaded material that gives it that new book smell of paper or that musky odor from those that have been repeatedly read over many years. Coffee spills destroy electronic devices, but for books, it adds a flare of character.

2. Books are more dependable than electronic devices. This is despite the fact that the production of books and printed materials largely comes from paper which is flammable and has many other ways to destroy. I can recall numerous ways that those same methods can destroy electronics as well; however, a book cannot malfunction or receive a virus (computer that is). A book does not need to be turned off at a plane’s take-off or depend upon electricity in the event of a power outage or worse, a zombie attack (just joking about the last one…I think).

3. Books cross all ages, generations, and boundaries. A big hoopla has been made about differences between generations and that quite possibly as we move into later generations less and less interest and demand will arise from consumers for actual print. However, speaking from my own experiences and my preferences, I would have to say that this conclusion is both rapid and inconclusive. The digital age and rise of electronics and the internet may require a rebalancing of the market in literature, but does not necessarily mean the destruction of it.

For example, young children enjoy viewing the iPad and television shows on those devices, but often take a greater liking and understanding of the large printed children’s books that are big, friendly, child-safe, and just better for hands-on interaction. Is the market changing? Admittedly, yes. There will and must be a redefinition of market-niches and categories to provide for new options available to consumers. To reiterate, redefinition does not equate to termination and the obsolete.

4. Writing, highlighting, and modifying books are a convenient task. This point coincides with the first, but deserves its own section due to how prevalent this issue is. Despite the limited space found in the margins, it is incredibly easy to accompany my book with a pen and scribble down little thoughts and underline passages of importance. These notes stay right where I wrote them next to the passage that induced the writing. Authors and readers stand strong by this convenience and tradition as a foundation to printed material. Furthermore, marking pages by indenting corner pages and adding sticky notes is another great feature and all of these modifications and markings are easily identifiable to the reader and their copy of a book or other printed material.

These are most likely just a few points of many explaining the benefits and features of printed material and books. It should also be noted that printing is a fairly modern and new technology. By that I intend to refer to Gutenberg, the printing press, and modern forms of development and binding. Books have not and will not overstay their welcome or become obsolete in concerns to their benefits and purpose for society, consumers, and the literary world.

This does not, however, reflect other various circumstances and aspects of the literary world that directly affect the distribution and creation of current printed works. For instance, paper is a finite resource in a sense due to its demand and consumption. Others have also reflected on how mass corporations and entities have a larger influence on the literary world and are pushing out smaller publishing houses. Numerous objections have arisen to describe how printed material will soon become obsolete, listing various reasons, but few incorporate advantages of electronic material over that of printed nor do they admit to the strengths of books and printed materials. I do not deny how astounding and miraculous it is to contain a library of books in one device and have also noted price differences between downloaded material versus the physical form.

However, at this point in time it seems that preference defines the market and not an obvious decline and stagnation of printed material sales. Until a new technology comes out that can convince me otherwise, I still enjoy cozying up to a book on a cold snowy day and continuing to see those coffee stains!