The Death of Books?

June 8, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment

(Post by Brad Bovenzi)

We have been talking a lot in this class about how textbooks are falling further into disfavor.  An article posted today (6/7/2009) on Boston.com, entitled “Call It Gutenberg 2.0” advances the argument even further.  The article recaps the recent Book Expo in NYC.  Perhaps it’s not just the textbooks.  Perhaps the entire “species” is heading toward extinction.

The article discusses how book sales are down.  At the same time, sales for digital books are steadily climbing.  Amazon.com, with its Kindle has become a major player in the digital market.  Book publishers, worried that they’ll end up like the music industry, have taken proactive measures to avoid downloading and piracy.  And so a Book Expo includes numerous digital media as well as print media.

This leaves me wondering.  The Kindle is advertised as being able to hold thousands of books in memory.  When was the last time you needed to carry thousands of books with you?  Usually, I would not have more than the one that I’m reading at that moment.  That one book might have cost me at most $25 if I splurged for a hardcover copy.  A Kindle costs $359.  One of my students had a Kindle.  I looked at it.  I don’t see the point.  What am I missing here?  Is my life really better served by being able to access page 75 of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at a moment’s notice?

A more philosophical point, though, is this.  What would a world without print books resemble?  I’m already dreading the day that the CD disappears entirely.  What about the day that the last book comes off a print line?  Will we ever have to see that?

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