Sunday, January 31, 2010

E-readers and the Future of Books

Let me begin by saying a few things. First I don’t think books are going away anytime soon. The technology works too well. Books are portable, durable and easy to use. So there is no need to fear that they will be leaving the shelves of your local library anytime soon.

Having said that I also have to add the except for my text books when I was in library school I used electronic texts almost exclusively. Not only was it easier to access what I was looking for but I also had so much more information available to me in that format. The material, especially when accompanied with links, was much more dynamic and fluid then a book could ever hope to be. And when put on a flash-drive exceptionally portable.

So do the e-readers have a place: yes. But it is more a case of what is it that you are looking for and how do you want to use the information that you seek. There are a lot of crossover applications. The e-readers can be used for information gathering, communications and reading for entertainment, to name a few applications. It is possible for a book to do some but not all of these things and, here is the real crux, a book can only do some of these things one application at a time. Does that mean books are obsolete? No, of course not; but it does mean that books may only have a limited application. However books certainly do that one application very, very well.

Would I purchase an e-reader? You bet, once I can afford one. It is not that I’m never going to check out a book again or that I’ll never pick up another magazine. Although to paraphrase Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel, I can gather all the news I want from the internet now. I see the e-readers as an extension of what it is I’m looking for. Another platform that provides me with access for what I’m looking for. E-readers also provide me with different options of how I might want to access and use that information. I’m not yet ready to throw away any of my books but I am ready to make space on my bookshelf for an e-reader.


  1. On a similar note I must say, being a senior in High School right now, that I cannot remember the last time that I have actually looked in a book other than a standard textbook for information on assignments given in High School. With the semi-recent widespread use of high-speed internet, all of the information that I could possibly need for any assignment is online (including online databases).

  2. A number of universities have already made the jump to e-readers. I would think it would be a lot easier to use and much more dynamic in content. And I'm guessing publishers would perfer e-books too.