Books Aren't Dead and They're Not Going Digital (Yet)


Books are old, books are dusty, books smell...books are dead! How many articles are we going to see about this topic? (Well, one more, at least!) I thought my input may be relevant seeing as I'm the target audience for ebooks: I'm a young student, a dedicated reader and a tech savvy gadget loving nerd. But I work with books all day long. At my library, I don't think there is anyone who has more "book-time" than I do. I am in charge of the shelves, I check in and out books and I lovingly clean and organize the shelves daily. I touch books constantly, I carry them, push them around on a cart, and pile and unpile them. When I interviewed for my position I kept asking, "are you planning to digitize these things?" The book collection seemed to take up space that could be better used for couches or computers. I thought students would be clamoring for electronic resources but I see now that we are no where near ready for that.

It comes down to this: until the technology that can replace books is free and ubiquitous, books cannot be thrown out. You will not see libraries without books until e-readers are given away in cereal boxes (or until we decide on a standard format that can be read in a web-based application that also has offline capabilities...now that's a crazy idea!). It just won't happen.

I want to be digital. I want to be paper-free. But it just isn't happening, yet. I read a lot. I read multiple books at a time (some for while I'm eating, some are better paired with a cup of tea and a sleeping kitten in my lap, others for the train, I listen to audiobooks while cleaning the apartment and have books on my iPhone's Kindle app that I read in bed). I'm definitely not married to the book as a physical entity, but I haven't been wooed by any of the e-reader apps or ebook stores. I've tried the Barnes and Noble ebook reader, and I've used the Kindle app for the iPhone. Both are acceptable; I can sit through a book without much discomfort. I don't miss books when using an e-reader but I do miss the money I spend on ebooks. I really can't see spending $9.99 on something that is digital. You may think my opinion is skewed because of my profession, but I'd gladly be book free, if it meant I wouldn't be without anything to read. I rely on libraries and loans from friends to fuel my appetite, and ebooks can't help me there. Let's all just calm down about ebooks. The future is not here.

For further reading:
Librarian in Black
Library Juice

I highly recommend you watch The Book vs. The Kindle from Green Apple Core. I link to part 1, but the whole series is really well thought out.

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