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Bill Bennett


Why printed books will never die

The undead book shelf

Josh Catone is almost right when he writes Why Printed Books Will Never Die. Although the pedant in me has an issue with the word never given that entropy means one day the universe will degrade into a particle stew. For now I’ll give Catone poetic licence.

He says:

Ebooks are not simply a better format replacing an inferior one; they offer a wholly different experience.

A good point. I’d read an ebook on a plane. I read work documents on a tablet or ebook. When reading for pleasure, I still want to see print and feel paper.

Whenever I hear people predicting the death of printed books I think back to the Roman, Greek and even earlier texts which can still be read today, then remember early electronic texts stored on 8-inch floppies or using now dead digital formats. Some of these are already lost forever.



4 thoughts on “Why printed books will never die

  1. All the nostalgia-related arguments against e-books leave me cold. But there is one fact that stops me converting my library of books into digital format – digital rights
    management. The fact that I do not own my copy and cannot lend it to my neighbour, friend or even my wife, unless I loan them my kindle or Amazon logon, really irritates me. A digital loan mechanism (single reader mode) is actually fairly simple to implement and should be a standard feature on a book reader.

    1. Fair enough. DRM is a real problem on so many levels. It also applies when it comes to sharing ebooks with yourself.

      Printed books are universal – anyone can read them today or at any point in the foreseeable future. What guarantees are there that you’ll still be able to read the Kindle book you pay for today in five or ten years time? Will you have to buy a fresh library if a device comes along to displace Kindle?

  2. One thing that surprises me is that many of today’s eBook Readers don’t support note taking, highlighting and the other things I enjoyed in both the Palm and Windows CE, Windows Mobile devices. One of the reasons (besides the fact that I love books) I don’t buy as many eBooks (not to mention the outrageous pricing when compared to print) is that my books are frequently read with a highlighter and post it flags.

    1. I love the idea of ebooks for non-fiction, manuals, business books and that kind of thing. You really do need note taking, highlighting and so on for those titles. And as for the price. It simply doesn’t make sense to me.

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