The news is out that Borders book store is no longer. As I consider this, I wonder if it’s a sign that books are going the way of the 8-track, cassette, LP, and VHS tape. Or is it an indication that book stored were meant to be independent stores, the neighborhood book store that still seems to be out there but in fewer numbers over the decades. I Google “book store” and up pops nearly a dozen local shops, all closer than my Borders location that will close soon. Maybe Boarders closing will give these stores a bit of a second wind, as I’ll probably stop in them a bit more often. There’s a bigger question, however, as Amazon reported sales of eBooks passed sales of physical books not too long ago, are printed books going the way of the dinosaur? Does it matter? Is there more to a book than the words it contains? As the Kindle commercial mocks, is there something about the feel of a book in your hands, the ability to dog-ear a page and perhaps even write in the margins or highlight some text you’d like to review?
On the other hand, is there a benefit that goes beyond paper in being able to hyperlink words in an eBook, to pull up a definition of an obscure word, or to link to an article that goes into greater detail on the topic? An eBook will also let you search for a word or phrase in seconds while the physical book make take a lot of flipping to find the passage you seek.
Garrison Keillor recently wrote an article titled ‘The end of an era in publishing.” It’s not eBooks that bother him, but rather the barrier to entry is gone. He pines not just for the typewriter, but for the days of a publisher that had to read your work and accept it. Today, whether it be a print-on-demand or eBook, anyone can write what they wish and offer their work to the public.
I find myself torn. I’m not ready to cut loose from paper altogether, but I do appreciate the convenience and compactness of the electronic book.
Are you giving up paper? Have you gone 100% electronic or are you still deciding between physical and virtual?