Sunday, September 6, 2009
The Future of Books is Not Dead!
As Mark Twain once said, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." I hope the same can be said about books.
One fear that I have heard writers express, is that books, as you and I have known and loved them, are becoming extinct. The rumor in the publishing industry is that Kindle and other hand-held electronic devices, will replace hard cover novels, soft cover paperbacks, newspapers, magazines and every other form of print media.
But wow can you curl up on a sofa or in front of a fire with a hand-held 6" screen? How can you share the pictures of Winnie-the-Pooh's treks with Piglet with your six-year-old on a monitor that fits into the palm of your hand?
An article in The Charlotte Observer's business section on September 4 helps relieve these anxieties. According to "Electronic readers' high prices might limit appeal," the high price of the readers ($199 - $489) will limit the consumer base. According to analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, "The majority of consumers don't care enough about reading or technology to invest in this type of single purpose device at anything close to realistic prices." While I wish that Epps' thought about reading wasn't true, I think she has a very valid point about the cost.
The Kindle's credentials are impressive. Long battery life makes it extremely portable. And with a 1500 book capacity, it would take a long time to read all the books I could download to a tiny reader.
But that's a steep price tag to pay for the privilege of toting my library in my purse or backpack.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like to feel the pages I am turning and love the smell of old, musty books. I like to look at the cover of a book and think about what's inside. With my over-50-years-old-eyes, I don't want to have to be squinting at a small screen, or have to enlarge every article so big that I can only see a portion of one paragraph.
Mark Twain, you don't have to turn over in your grave. Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer will still find their way into the hearts--and hands of readers. Hopefully, for a very long time to come.
Kindle, electronic books, Sarah Rotman Epps, Mark Twain
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