That seems to be the common consensus anymore; or at least that’s what the folks that shout the loudest want you to believe. But is that really the case?
If you listen to social media, you’d come away with the clear message that ‘no one’ reads print anymore; ebooks and e-zines are the defacto usurpers, without question.
But (depending on how much weight you put on these types of informal studies) a recent Rasmussen poll put the percentage of adult readers that prefer traditional print books to eBooks at a whopping 75%. Despite that it’s not a true scientific study, and it was a random sampling; that number is staggering considering the permeation of the eBook format over the past several years. Some estimates put the number of eBooks being published each year in the neighborhood of half a million.
This leads back to the original thought. Is print truly dead?
Or is it that with the advent of self-publishing sites and resources, that there are just more eBooks now than there ever have been. Maybe the perception that ‘print is dead’ is simply because everyone and their dog’s cousin can publish a book at will, and it heavily skews the numbers that people feel paint the overall picture of the publishing landscape.
I don’t know about you, but the last time I stepped into a brick and mortar bookstore, there were still thousands upon thousands of books on the shelves; and they still sell. Yet despite the seemingly premature death knell marking print’s imminent demise, traditional publishers are still pumping them out by the millions each year.
True, eBooks are convenient; maybe too much so. After all, when you could have one, small device that can store thousands of works without ever gaining an ounce versus a mounting stack of bound books gathering dust on your shelf in the corner – is there really any true competition there?
Not so fast.
As I honestly admit, this author loves the idea of being able to swipe through thousands of pages at will. And I love the fact that I can go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website and instantly download a copy of a classic that I would otherwise have had to either had shipped or pick up at the local bookstore.
But for me, those conveniences will never replace the tactile feel of a book in my hands. To date myself, I grew up back in the day when a computer was either a teletype, or a machine that printed EBCDIC (look that one up, kids) punch cards for a half-room sized reader. I have very fond memories of going downtown to my small town’s public library and having to look in the card catalogue to locate what I was looking for. Browsing the aisles and imbibing that wonderful ‘book’ smell.
And maybe…just maybe, those nostalgic remembrances of mine are a shared feeling. Maybe, despite the conveniences of this wonderful digital age, most people still prefer to hold that book in their hand, to fold over the pages and to feel the paper turn between their fingertips.
Or, perhaps the intangibility of our digital loneliness has left us yearning for a simpler time.