With the advent of e-readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Apple’s Ipad, books have been brought into the digital realm. Each of the e-readers above enjoy sales in the tens of millions, showing the incredible popularity these devices have with readers all over the world. What will it mean, though, for the future of physical books?
Supporters of ibooks and digital reading might argue that transposing books onto a digital platform no longer means that books are subjected to any physical harms and can, potentially, live forever. You can hold thousands of books in one device as opposed to carrying each heavy book with you. Newer enhanced e-readers (such as the Nook) also allow for embedding graphics and sound into certain ibooks.
Refuseniks, however, hold firm ground that reading physical books, being able to turn and fold pages are much more personal and carry much more emotional involvement from the reader than their digital counterparts. The shift to the digital space means that people don’t buy as many books as previously from bookstores. Instead, people can download books from home in a fraction of the time, resulting in many bookstores shutting down.
For me, there’s something more enchanting visiting a bookstore, walking down the aisles, smelling the newly-printed pages, being able to see what’s made the New York Time’s bestseller list, and just being in the presence of hundreds of books. When I take the time to look through the shelves and, after what seems like an endless internal debate, pick a particular book, there’s a more gratifying feeling than just downloading a book.
While both forms of books have their positive and negative sides, what’s certain is that there will have to be room big enough for both to survive. Books and e-readers, it seems, are here to stay in whatever stance a person has. It is, ultimately, up to the reader to find the positives in the different forms and possibly even adapt to both.