The Future of Books

Yes, yet another writer chiming in on her perspective on the state of “physical” books. It’s going to be short and sweet and I’m not going to site other posts on other websites.  This is a pure opinion piece.

Recently, I had the chance to hold an iPad in my hands and play with the possibilities.  Oh, my!  I liked it.  I really, really liked it.  I definitely have my moments of geekdom.  Who but an absolute computer-phobe (or Apple-hater, maybe) wouldn’t jump at the chance? 

What fun it was to look at my relative’s virtual bookshelf.  I could choose a book and start reading.  I could change the size of the font and the color of the background or the type.  This could be an asset when my eyes are tired and can’t focus as well on the smaller fonts.  People have made much of the “page turning” feature – how realistic it is, complete with the sound of the turning page.  Ok, I guess that’s cool.  I wonder if it would get annoying after a while, though.  Of course, that wasn’t the only thing on the iPad.  There were games and conversion tools and all kinds of other apps.  I haven’t yet seen just a book reader yet.  But now that I’ve seen the iPad, I plan to check them out. 

This experience hasn’t separated me from my loyalty to physical books yet.  I’m proud of my library and love to see the books all lined up on the shelves all over the house. I love the smell of books and the tactile feel of turning the pages.  I love the fact that books are simple and self-contained: no batteries or cables or wifi connection required. 

I really enjoy reading big ol’ epic novels, but I also dislike traveling with a huge tome or trying to read one in bed.  The ease and convenience of having my whole library with me at any time is a delicious thought. Yes, I can see the value of an electronic reader.  Electronic reader – not something like the iPad.  That’s basically like having a computer with you.  Much too much of a distraction, and I have way too many of those right now as it is.

Elecronic readers and iPads and whatever other incarnations of these in the future, are, I believe, here to stay. But will they completely replace physical books? Technology has proven to be very, very good at providing small changes that are capable of big differences in people’s lives. This, surely, will be one of those things. I do think they will eventually replace physical books – but not for a very long time.  There will still be hold-outs like myself. 

In fact, they will probably have to pry a book out of my cold, dead, hand.

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16 comments on “The Future of Books

  1. Texanne says:

    I want an iPad for my mother, who can no longer read paper books.
    For myself, I read all kinds of books–one of my favorite things to do is to have my computer read PDFs to me, when my eyes are tired.
    My house is The House of Bookshelves, too. You know something awful? All those swell garage sales–nobody ever sells or throws out a bookshelf. What does that mean?
    Thanks for the thought-starter.

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    • ekcarmel says:

      Texanne, you’re right – I never thought about it, but nobody *does* sell bookshelves! I’m thinking they sell the books so they can make more room on their shelves for new ones. At least that’s what I do.

      I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to such things, but when you say the computer reads to you, is it a program you have to buy or is it included in the operating system or whatever? I’m curious.

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  2. Kerryn says:

    I’m only weeks away from buying an eReader, rather than months or never. 🙂 I was decided on the Sony Reader until the new Kindle came out. I want it for both book reading and novel revising and while I’m travelling and living abroad for the next three years the lack of physical books is a definite plus. I think physical books will become more collectable and I absolutely still have my dream of an old-fashioned library with bay windows and wall to ceiling bookshelves.

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  3. ekcarmel says:

    Oooo, novel revising – they can do that, too? I guess I really need to research. I hope you post on your blog when you get the new reader. Silly me. You’re a writer – of course you will! 😉

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  4. kerrynangell says:

    I will make sure I do! Some eReaders support .rtf and .pdf which means you can take your word documents and put them on the eReader. If the eReader then has a notation ability like Sony Reader and Kindle do then you can annotate and highlight your own manuscripts. Viola!

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  5. ekcarmel says:

    Oh, that is so cool! By the way, I like your new photo!

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  6. amkuska says:

    My sony e-reader doesn’t show a flipping page or make a sound. I think I’d be annoyed if it did. If I’m reading a book, I’m absorbed in the story. I am the story. I don’t hear the turning of the page or see the page flipping because I’m busy slaying dragons or catapulting myself into the next county. What I love about my e-reader is that I can read faster than with a book. A twitch of my thumb and the next page instantly blinks in front of me. I can live the story so much better.

    Er…I actually meant to thank you for suggesting the post at Magical Words and letting you know I’ll be linking back both to it and your blog tomorrow. You’ve got such an addicting blog, just can’t help myself.

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  7. ekcarmel says:

    Addicting? Stop – you’re making me blush! But, really, thank you very much. And I’m pleased you want to link back to me, too. That’s how we all get more buzz for our blogs going.

    I hadn’t thought about reading faster with an e-reader because you don’t have to stop to turn the page. That’s another plus! I love getting lost in a book.

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  8. […] a terrific opinion piece, “The Future of Books,” over at Writing. Family. Life. Please check out the original piece and then come back to read my […]

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  9. What a great post! You triggered a lengthy response, which I’ve posted on my blog with a trackback to your above post, and inspired a new short story. Maybe you’ll be able to read that short story when it’s finished in about one month. Thank you for the inspiration!

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  10. ekcarmel says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And I can’t wait to read the story! I’m going to pop over to your blog *right now*.

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  11. Briane Pagel says:

    I think that “hard copy” books will, in the future, be relegated to collector’s items, the way some bands now produce records on vinyl to appease hard-core technophobes. There’s just too much cost associated with printing 30,000 copies of a book, shipping them out, and then eating the returns costs.

    The upside? Publishers may take more of a shot on writers that they wouldn’t have before, because it’s easier to do so. And indie publishing may become more viable.

    The downside? We’ll have to rethink the way books are marketed, as “giant stacks of books just inside Barnes & Noble” gets phased out.

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  12. Carrie Booth says:

    First off, Eileen, I have to say that I am totally envious of your built in bookcases!!! I used to have them, too, when I was married, but that is another story…instead, I have two small bookcases, one big one, and one that my brother in law made for my sister in my apartment…I won’t even begin to tell you about the amount of books I either have in bags or totes that I haven’t read yet…My boyfriend’s sister and I often share books back and forth so she pretty much keeps me supplied! But no matter how many books I have, I feel the need to get more…and sorry, there will never be an E-reader for me…love the physicality of holding the books and turning the pages too much!

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  13. ekcarmel says:

    I’m lucky, the bookcases came with the house. Books are one of the few things I collect, however I’ve been paring down because I pretty much filled those shelves and I just don’t have any more room! I love the physicality as well. Even if I do get a reader sometime (I honestly can’t say I never will), I won’t give up my collection!

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  14. […] watching the Borders scenario and wondering how this will effect my future career. I’ve blogged before about my love for actual, physical books. But I’ve begun to realize that ebooks […]

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  15. […] ereaders for a few months, trying to figure out the buzz. I was conflicted, as I mentioned in my previous post. But, apparently, my husband was watching, because he bought me a Kindle for Christmas. […]

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