Thursday, March 06, 2008

Digital Media Versus The Book

Book lovers have emotional bond with paper - Nate Anderson @ Ars Technica

Books litter my house. Between my sister and I we have amassed quite a collection of fiction, nonfiction and everything in-between. I personally have books stacked in weird places just so I can move around. For me the attachment to printed media like books lies in its versatility. Now I know many Kindle users and other digital book readers will say that you lose nothing of said versatility but there's something ingrained in me that enjoys holding a book and physically turning pages. Perhaps the next generation of readers or the generation after that will have less of an attachment to books. Even so, there's something to be said for maintaining printed media alongside digital books. The key issue for me is longevity. A printed book will last far longer than digital media will in the original state it was printed in. There's a lot of concern as the digital age moves forward about having the hardware to read data from media like floppy disks, laserdiscs and even cds themselves. A hundred years in the future, will we still have working cd-rom drives? And what happens to that media if we don't? This is all to say really that the printed text will not die easily, if at all. Transposed into different forms perhaps, bound in new ways or even incorporating some tech into itself. But the writing, editing and publication of books is not the same as the composing of music or video. Books have spanned centuries in a mainly unchanged form while music has gone through constant changes. So I wouldn't bet on books disappearing too soon.

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