Monthly Archives: July 2015

A response to: Where are the books?

So while perusing linked in I found a link to an article that is very alarmist, claiming in the opening sentence that “The hallmark of public libraries — the printed book, bound by covers and centuries of page-turning — is being shoved aside by digital doppelgangers.”

To read the entire article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/where-are-the-books-libraries-under-fire-as-they-shift-from-print-to-digital/2015/07/07/eb265752-1525-11e5-9518-f9e0a8959f32_story.html

This is absurd, The article is very one sided and has little merit in of itself. It makes grandiose claims and is a headline grabber as most news articles have become. Print is not dead, digital is still too new and too unreliable to be considered a replacement for print.

With digital resources being available to the public for less than 30 years, there is little chance of it replacing traditional print. It took years, if not centuries for the written scroll made of vellum or papayrus to be phased out by paper and books. Modern print has taken  a long time to be made affordable, reliable and available to the public. Digital formatting only meets one of the three criteria for replacement: availablity.

Affordability: Are ebooks really that affordable? The first argument I hear from people is “I can get all kinds of books for free.” Which is true, but if your looking for an established authors latest pick (Stephen King, Terry Goodkind, George RR Martin, etc.) your looking at anywhere from 11.99 and up for an electronic copy.  Also there is the cost of the ereader, which will be outdated within a few years after costing anywhere from $30-80, plus any maintenance or electronic issues it may have. So sure, some stuff is free, but the start up fee and best selling authors are going to cost just as much, if not more than the paperback edition of the book.

Reliability: Is an e-book or ereader really more reliable than the physical book? Not really. If my e-reader gets wet it is likely the end of that reader and any “books” contained within it. For a paperback it may be beat up, but is likely still very readable. Also with the way technology evolves in this “age of information” it is likely the technology will be outdated and replaced by something else (a newer technology, an updated version of the current technology). So the e-reader and possibly everything you paid for on the e-reader will become obsolete or unusable in the future, where as many books maintain their usability for years. Paper has a lifespan of about 100 years according to historians who have studied books and paper. The e-reader along with many other electronic storage devices are untested, and we can only speculate how long it will take before the ereaders battery and files becomes corrupt and unusable. ISome books in my library were purchased and first checked-out in the 1980’s. These books are over 25 years old and still read by people here. Does anyone really think they will still be using, or even have that ereader and those downloaded books 25 years after the date or purchase?

Where are the books? right here! Which is where they will stay. There is no danger of the printed book being replaced by digital books. A new technology has come along and become popular. Libraries are responding to popular demand, we are adapting to the audience. A jump into the high single digit percentages of a budget is not a valid argument for the downfall of print. The changes in media format and its adaptation is nothing new. The book survived the radio, cinema, television, and it will survive as a media form of entertainment well after the ebook has faded from the pages history.