Sunday, July 7, 2013

In Defense of Print Books

As e-books and e-readers continue to rise in popularity, I’ve noticed comments on the death of print slowly shift from outrage to halfhearted acceptance, as if this next step in literature is totally inevitable.  However, I refuse to accept that print books will one day be a thing of the past, to the point where I wrote my final research paper on the subject for my Freshman Rhetoric class.  Now, looking back over my notes, I can’t help but smile at the dozens of reasons I was able to collect in support of the survival of traditional books.  Maybe they won’t be around forever and ever, but here are a few reasons why they also won’t be dying out anytime soon.

First of all, readers like the physical look and feel of books.  Traditional book pages can be flipped through, corners can be folded over, notes can be written in margins, and back covers can be dramatically slammed shut.  Everyone loves that old book smell, not to mention the look of a dozen colorful bindings stacked on nightstands and bookshelves.  Sliding a finger across a single e-book’s touch screen is hardly the same experience as cracking the binding of a new volume.
Readers also love the experience of vising bookstores.  Even when setting out for the bookstore with a single title in mind, almost everyone ends up wandering, browsing, and exploring the shelves before making a final decision.  It’s fun to hear about new releases and recommendations from the salespeople at bookstores, who are almost guaranteed to be book lovers themselves.  And the rise in technology is only causing booksellers to become more creative with their services: many bookstores host events such as signings and book clubs, or develop unique gimmicks for their bookstore that only further cultivate the reading community.  My favorite bookstore from home has pets, including birds, rats, fish, a tarantula, cats, and even a chicken that freely wanders the store.

Finally, the rise in technology doesn’t automatically mean the death of print books.  TV didn’t kill radio.  And in many cases, new technology has improved the sales of books.  In addition to using blogs, web sites, and social media to promote and sell new books, publishers and booksellers can track orders, allowing them to only print and order as many books as would sell.  In the past, publishers would be forced to go to such extremes as burning entire warehouses of books because there was no efficient way of keeping track of sales.  As someone who loves both print books and technology equally, I for one am fully convinced that these two forms of media can co-exist.

Read on,

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