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Will physical books become obsolete?


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Dh gave my eldest dd and I Kindles for Christmas. I was on the fence about getting one for ages, because I love the feel and smell of a real book. Dd really wanted one though. Now that I have it, I do like my Kindle a lot, but I'm about to get rid of our 2000+ books and convert entirely to e-books.

 

Dh and FIL keep telling me that in about 20 years books will be obsolete and everything will be digital. I find that hard to believe. However, when you consider all the things that have become obsolete over the last 20-30 years (cassette tapes, video cassettes, rotary phones, etc.) I suppose it could be possible.

 

I guess I just find it hard to believe that there could come a day when there were no more physical books, libraries, bookstores, etc. because everything is digital. It seems to Jetsons to me.

 

So, what say you? Will physical books someday disappear from our culture?

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I personally don't think books will disappear. There are enough people paranoid about losing things, such as concerns my DH has about occasionally Kindle titles just disappearing off your Kindle poof.

 

A physical book is far more secure in that the ideas written therein are not going to change or disappear without your notice. And they can be read decades from now, even if Kindle/Nook, etc., technology disappears. I totally respect that view. I think I will keep our really important books as physical and use our Kindle liberally for other reading, thus freeing up precious shelf space.

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Here is a post I made a little while ago in the high school forum

 

I got my new Southern Living magazine. I love the Southern Journal article at the back every month. This month has one by Rick Bragg about his love of " Words on Paper." He likes and doesn't have anything against e-books, Kindles,etc However, he loves his paper books. Here is a paragraph that I was jumping up and down saying, "I agree!"

 

"But I hope I will never have a life that is not surrounded by books, by books that are bound by paper and cloth and glue, such perishable things for ideas that have lasted thousands of years, or just since the most recent Harry Potter. I hope I am always walled in by the very weight and breadth and clumsy, inefficient, antiquated bulk of them, hope that I spend my last days on this Earth arranging and rearranging them on thrones of good, honest pine, oak and mahogany, because they just feel good in my hands, because I just like to look at their covers and dream of the promise of great stories inside."

 

 

Just one paragraph out of the whole page.

 

I thought some of you gals might appreciate these thoughts as well.

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Will physical books someday disappear from our culture?

 

I hope not! I have a Nook, and so do two of my dc. It makes reading convenient because it is easy to carry around the books, and storage is not a problem. But I don't want to give up paper books, either. What if the power is out and the ereader is not charged enough to read, or what if your ereader breaks? That's not a problem if you have paper books.

 

I don't think I could curl up and snuggle with a young child while reading aloud an ebook. There is something wonderful about holding that book, oversized sometimes, and looking at and discussing the pictures and the story. I don't want the ereader experience when reading aloud before bedtime. I think my dc teethed on books (baby and toddler ones, don't panic). They liked to 'read' books to themselves. That just is not the same on an ereader, even though many children's books are interactive. I consider those like using computer software. They are good for a specific purpose, but I will stick to paper books for reading to a young child. I can see ereaders as more useful when reading to an older child when pictures are not needed. But I still hesitate to go all ebooks.

 

I also hope paper books stick around for historical reasons. They can be read in a hundred years, just as there are hundred year old books readable today. Technology doesn't affect them. There are already books that have been abridged/changed in order to make them more politically correct. I don't want to see every book as an ebook, where it would be quite easy to change the words or meanings since everything is downloaded. I guess that may be a bit cynical, but when a nation is conquered, typically one of the first things done is eliminating books and changing textbooks to reflect the views of the conqueror. Paper books are harder to change than ebooks.

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Yup, I think books will disappear. I think there wil be a few people that will still hold on to them in the same way people hold on to records. But generations will come behind that are in the modern age that don't care for books, but rather for gadgets. W/i the next year expected to die out are GPSs and digital cameras. I'd add watches.

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They probably are being phased out - but I hope not entirely...I love holding a real book myself. Some of the best are older books with a few notes from a previous reader! However - I have to say I got so burned out on magazines and stop buying anymore subscriptions because they all want me to jump on their websites. When several of my fav's started teasing me with an article or a pattern for a craft or something only to find I had to get online to get it - it wasn't in the magazine...bye bye - I just stopped ordering them. Maybe I should let them know how I don't appreciate this - should I send them an email?:lol:

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

 

:crying:

 

I had a Kindle. It was alright...for some non-fiction. Certainly not suitable for a Jane Austen novel. :tongue_smilie:After reading about so many people who thought they wouldn't like e-readers but ended up loving them, I gave in to peer pressure. It wasn't my thing. I kept it for about a month and then gave it to DH for all his PDF files for work. His whole work life is PDF after PDF after PDF. :lol:

 

Books are :001_wub:. Just not the same and never will be.

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I don't think so. Everyone said paper would go away in the digital age, but that's hardly happening. I just think we have more options now. I like that books are that much more accessible to whoever wants them. (And I say that as someone who doesn't own or want any kind of e-reader.)

 

:)

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Yes. Books are going away. No amount of our nostalgia for them is going to help them stay as anything other than relics, collectors items and objets d'art. I suspect childrens books - especially picture books - will be the last to go, but even those, by the time my 7 yos are reading to their own kids, will mostly be gone.

 

Eta: I love paper books, but I've gotten to where this no longer upsets me. If books don't change, they won't stay relevant as a medium, any more than they would have if people had insisted they still be hand lettered and bound.

Edited by farrarwilliams
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I don't think so (at least I hope not).

 

I have a Kindle. I've read a few books on it, and I do like it for some things. But when I'm done reading a book on it, I almost feel like I haven't read it...it's hard to explain. I guess I'm a more visual, hands-on person, and I need the feeling and sight of turning the pages to make it feel like I've finished a book.

 

Also, the price of ebooks seems too much to me...anything remotely popular is at least $9. For a quarter of that price I can usually find the same

hardback book used. I basically only have free classic books on my Kindle (and a ton of samples :tongue_smilie:)

 

So far, I use my Kindle mostly in conjunction with actual books. For instance, I have the teacher's edition to our science curriculum on Kindle, which saves me from printing it out. Then, the kids have their own papers we print out, plus the supplementary reference books they use, which are real books.

 

Until the price of ebooks comes way down, I can't see us getting Kindles for the kids. Our library is just starting to lend out Kindle edition ebooks, but so far they haven't had anything I wanted.

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Ereaders are a convenience but I don't they'll ever replace actual books. Supplement them, yes, but replace now. I never thought I'd own one but I do and probably use it 50% of the time. But it doesn't take the place of the experience, the smell, the feel, the snuggling up on the couch and reading. My son won't read an e-book, he's rather be able to hold it, turn the pages. Same with my husband. Yes, many authors are putting out stories on ebook but as an additional option. Not in place of regular books. Did you know records are also making a come back and more are being produced. There are still the audiophiles who like the sound and the experience. So there will always be bibliophiles who prefer actual books.

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Well I certainly hope they invent a waterproof Kindle before they get rid of books because I like to read in the bath :D

 

I just got a Kindle for Christmas - I really like using it for convienience. It's great for carting around town in my bag for moments when you get stuck waiting and fabulous for entertaining kids during boring moments but I would still prefer to read a real book- it's harder to flick through the pages and read ahead on the plot with a Kindle ;)

 

Plus when I fall asleep it doesn't matter as much if I drop the book on the floor.

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Not allowed to use electricity. Lights are turned on beforehand and left on for the duration, etc.

 

But you are still using electricity no matter when you turned the lights on. Using this as a guide couldn't you turn on the e-reader before Sabbath and leave it on for the duration.

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But you are still using electricity no matter when you turned the lights on. Using this as a guide couldn't you turn on the e-reader before Sabbath and leave it on for the duration.

 

No, because each time you touch the button or the screen to turn a page, etc., you are closing an electrical circuit. With the lights, once you turn them on beforehand, you don't have to touch them again to make them stay on.

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Will they go away completely? no. But will they be greatly reduced? yes.

 

For instance, at our school, every student in grades 9-12 has an iPad. We are no longer buying ANY physical textbooks or novels for their classes. All books will be in kindle form, online books, or apps. No more heavy backpacks.

 

The big textbook companies are now creating full curricula in an app form. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt now has one for Algebra I and II and Geometry and that is just the beginning (it is called HMH Fuse if any of you are interested).

 

All novels read in their English classes will be through their kindle app. We are now "stocking up" on ebooks in our main library as well and they get "checked out" just like real books but without all the wear and tear, nobody loses them and they are never overdue. :D

 

I personally still have quite a few books as they are favorites and I dont care to pay for them again in kindle form but all the books I have bought in the last two years have been in kindle form. I love it!

 

It truly is a whole new world and it fits in my purse!

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Yes, many authors are putting out stories on ebook but as an additional option. Not in place of regular books.

 

Well, this depends on the author. Some traditionally-published authors have rejected new traditional contracts to self-publish their new books in ebook format only. And there are many, many authors who have never been traditionally published who are self-publishing in ebook format, and some of them are enjoying quite a bit of success. And some of those have then been offered publishing contracts for physical books as a result of their ebook success.

 

It's all a jumble right now, but I think physical books will continue.

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Yes. Books are going away. No amount of our nostalgia for them is going to help them stay as anything other than relics, collectors items and objets d'art. I suspect childrens books - especially picture books - will be the last to go, but even those, by the time my 7 yos are reading to their own kids, will mostly be gone.

 

Eta: I love paper books, but I've gotten to where this no longer upsets me. If books don't change, they won't stay relevant as a medium, any more than they would have if people had insisted they still be hand lettered and bound.

.....or imprinted on clay tablets. :tongue_smilie: Can you imagine having this conversation in ancient Sumer? I do love paper books and don't think they will disappear in *my* lifetime. But it certainly makes sense that future generations will not view books the same as we do.
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No. The EM pulse that destroys civilization will fix that. :D

 

:lol::lol:

 

That or the solar flare. :D

 

 

Actually we were debating this exact issue when I was in grad school 20 years ago. One Prof was sure that we would be in the age of digital information by now-paper media would have been virtually eliminated. I'm not convinced that his vision has come true. I think we will be in a hybrid of digital and paper media for a very long time. Those who love books have a relationship with them that transcends content and depends on a physical object not just a digital image.

 

And of course the part where my family is doing its best to collect and store every book we come across. Surely we aren't alone? ;)

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Well I certainly hope they invent a waterproof Kindle .....

I just got a Kindle for Christmas - I really like using it for convienience. It's great for carting around town in my bag for moments when you get stuck waiting and fabulous for entertaining kids during boring moments but I would still prefer to read a real book- it's harder to flick through the pages and read ahead on the plot with a Kindle ;)

 

Plus when I fall asleep it doesn't matter as much if I drop the book on the floor.

 

Indeed! I read books and magazines from back to front rather frequently. It's a

pain to do that with kindle! And yes, electronic devices are frequently dropped, stepped on, of splashed with coffee here.. Makes me a nervous wreck to imagine all my "books" disappearing with the broken device. I can't afford to just go buy another!

 

Woah! Hold the phone! Haven't become a big annotater yet, but ds and I are working through Windows to the World which is big, HUGE, on annotation. How the heck do you annotate an e-book?

 

There are some notation options. It varies pending ghe device. On my iPad, they look like yellow stick notes. Which I instantly developed a deep hatred of. Of course, I have a strong aversion to writing in books of any kind anyways. So my opinion might not be the best.

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.....or imprinted on clay tablets. :tongue_smilie: Can you imagine having this conversation in ancient Sumer? I do love paper books and don't think they will disappear in *my* lifetime. But it certainly makes sense that future generations will not view books the same as we do.

 

:lol:Yes, can you imagine the Mesopotamian guy talking to the Egyptian about this newfangled papyrus. "No way that's going to replace *my* clay tablets! Sure, people will use it for travel, but the smell of the clay in my library! And what would I even do with that room if it didn't hold my copy of Gilgamesh?"

 

I don't think paper books will totally disappear in my life, but they're not going to be the norm in acquiring a new title to read within my life - and sooner than a lot of people think.

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I hope not, and I will keep the spirit alive no matter what!!! Yesterday I was envisioning how I can line my classroom with bookshelves.

 

I think physical books will disappear in some areas. Textbooks maybe, manuals and how to book, probably. Things that get updated frequently. I totally believe a future when people walk around with tablet computers, like Star Trek. Wait, that's happening now, remember when that felt so, so...impossible?

 

But physical books for pleasure? goodness no. I adore real books. I adore technology, but I want my book printed. Even ds prefers a printed book (bless him, he IS my child!). Dh would do everything on his phone or computer though.

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I don't think they will go away.

 

I think the books people really love will still be printed, because they will want them printed.

 

An ebook is fine for something I don't love or to get a quick taste of something, but the books I love, I will always want to own in a tangible way.

 

Books are like art to me. Some people adorn their home with paintings and knick knacks. Mine is adorned with books.

 

Reading an ebook is much like looking at art online to me. I can appreciate both and enjoy both, but if at all possible, I prefer to hang the art on my wall or go visit it in person. You just can't replace that with an e edition.

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A lot of things we currently use will be obsolete in 20 years, and most will change form (e.g., compare computers 20 years ago with computers today). I love books for their content more than their form, though of course there are printed books I treasure. Honestly, I would much rather read a classic book on my Kindle or iPad than an old, musty, dusty, scratchy trade paperback. When I say, "I loved that book!" I mean the story or the words, not the book itself. I think there will always be a market for printed books in my lifetime, though printed book publishing will likely shift more to a collector's or specialty market rather than being the primary mode of publishing.

Edited by WordGirl
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What happens if Amazon goes under? Is there a way to convert one's ebooks into another format?

 

Yes - you can use Calibre (a free program) to convert them to pdf's and epubs.

 

I do think that for the majority - physical books will become obsolete. Which I don't have a problem with. I love my Nook, and content is content.

 

I do think that physical books will still exist, you just won't see a lot of people reading them :)

 

Everything changes. Nothing wrong with that. This reminds me of the out-cry when vinyl records were going away. No matter how much better those CD's were, purists were adamant they would never give up their vinyl....

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Print books aren't going to disappear, in the sense that there are billions of them out there and they're pretty durable. But yeah, print books, at least text-based ones, are going away in the sense of no longer being published, and it's not going to be anything close to ten years before they become completely niche products.

 

Mass-market paperback sales have already completely tanked, losing about 50% unit sales year-on-year for the last two years. That trend can only continue and accelerate as more people get ebook readers. Just a couple or three years ago, publishers planned on the basis of printing two books for every one that sold. The other would be returned and pulped or remaindered. Now, for paperbacks, they're having to print four or five books for each one sold. It's not sustainable. Hardbacks aren't in quite as bad shape, but they're getting there.

 

Publishing is a numbers game and critical mass is very much an issue. With the collapse of Borders and B&N's brick-and-mortar stores in horrible financial shape, the number of outlets for print book sales is falling fast, and unit sales of print books are tracking that decline. In probably five years and possibly as little as two, new print titles will decline to the point where the only authors being published in print are the mega-bestsellers that can move large volumes through Wal*Mart, airport bookstores, and so on.

 

I have many author friends, including several whose names any reader would recognize. They've had NYT bestsellers, some of them several times. Of the couple dozen authors I know that are in that class, all but a handful are already self-publishing. Most of them are getting their backlists up as self-pubbed ebooks and often as self-pubbed pbooks as well. About half of them have already committed to self-pubbing at least some of their new work. This bodes very badly for traditional publishers, but is great news for readers and the authors themselves, who end up making much more money at much lower ebook prices.

 

To the person who was concerned about being orphaned if Amazon.com goes out of business, I'd recommend you do as follows: (1) always download books to your PC rather than transferring them directly to your Kindle. Keep a local copy. (2) download and install a program called Calibre, which is an ebook manager. (3) download and install the supplementary scripts for Calibre, which allow you to strip the DRM from Kindle ebooks (not all of which have DRM). If necessary, you can then use Calibre to convert your ebooks to different formats, like EPUB. I know a lot of mixed marriages--he has a Kindle, she a Nook, or vice versa--who do just this so that they can read each other's books. Buy once and use wherever you want to.

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I HOPE NOT! I much prefer a physical book for non-fiction. Though the highlight/notes feature of an e-book can be OK, it's nothing like underlining and sticky post-its in a real book to reference later. Plus, there are books I want to pass down to my kids one day, and I can't imagine doling them out electronically.

 

Remember when everyone said that offices would be paperless? Still waiting for that one to happen.

 

Physical books are here to stay, but how many are produced and at what cost will probably change.

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P

 

I have many author friends, including several whose names any reader would recognize. They've had NYT bestsellers, some of them several times. Of the couple dozen authors I know that are in that class, all but a handful are already self-publishing. Most of them are getting their backlists up as self-pubbed ebooks and often as self-pubbed pbooks as well. About half of them have already committed to self-pubbing at least some of their new work. This bodes very badly for traditional publishers, but is great news for readers and the authors themselves, who end up making much more money at much lower ebook prices.

 

 

Thanks for sharing your experience. My MIL, who has written textbooks and now medical murder mysteries, used to be adamant against self-publishing. Her latest book is self-published.

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I HOPE NOT! I much prefer a physical book for non-fiction. Though the highlight/notes feature of an e-book can be OK, it's nothing like underlining and sticky post-its in a real book to reference later. Plus, there are books I want to pass down to my kids one day, and I can't imagine doling them out electronically.

 

Remember when everyone said that offices would be paperless? Still waiting for that one to happen.

 

Physical books are here to stay, but how many are produced and at what cost will probably change.

 

Oh yes. I worked in a large office that got computers in the early 90s. We generated more paper for a few years.

 

My mom used to print e-mails and give them to me. :svengo: Please just forward it, mom.

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Yes. Books are going away. No amount of our nostalgia for them is going to help them stay as anything other than relics, collectors items and objets d'art. I suspect childrens books - especially picture books - will be the last to go, but even those, by the time my 7 yos are reading to their own kids, will mostly be gone.

 

Eta: I love paper books, but I've gotten to where this no longer upsets me. If books don't change, they won't stay relevant as a medium, any more than they would have if people had insisted they still be hand lettered and bound.

 

I'm curious. Do you buy favorite books to make sure they will be available to your kids when they become parents, or do you figure the new medium will be preferable at that time?

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I love books for their content more than their form, though of course there are printed books I treasure. Honestly, I would much rather read a classic book on my Kindle or iPad than an old, musty, dusty, scratchy trade paperback. When I say, "I loved that book!" I mean the story or the words, not the book itself.

 

That is an interesting point. To me, the book itself is as important as the content. I love for my series to all have matching bindings. I love to look at sets of books with beautiful bindings. I love pretty endpapers. :tongue_smilie:

 

My dh and 10yo dd definitely don't care about such things. Only the content matters to them. Dd has a series of books with mixed hardbacks and paperbacks. It bugs me, and they aren't even my books. :lol:

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Unless the digital divide becomes non-existent, and the prices to own this sort of technology drop, then I don't see paper copy going away too soon. I can see the selection becoming slim pickings, but there are too many people still barely scraping by in the US and all over the world for paper books to be gone.

 

I live in neighborhoods where many people don't own a computer or cell phone yet. Or if they own a cell phone, it's a cheap pay-as-you-go with only the basics. A kindle/nook/i-pad? Way out of reach for them, or if they can save up for the unit or buy it with a tax return, they could only read what's downloadable for free or rentable at the library. And this might just be the adults- the kids wouldn't have access to something like this unless their school provided it. And if you've seen some of the schools my DH has worked in... :lol: he was lucky to have lights and 10 fifteen year old textbooks that the kids had to work in partners with.

 

So no-- unless prices drop sharply, I don't see it happening. Or if books DO taper off, less people will have access to new material.

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:lol:Yes, can you imagine the Mesopotamian guy talking to the Egyptian about this newfangled papyrus. "No way that's going to replace *my* clay tablets! Sure, people will use it for travel, but the smell of the clay in my library! And what would I even do with that room if it didn't hold my copy of Gilgamesh?"

 

I don't think paper books will totally disappear in my life, but they're not going to be the norm in acquiring a new title to read within my life - and sooner than a lot of people think.

 

 

:lol:

 

Oh the smell of the clay... and the inconvenience of having to unroll those darn scrolls.

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:lol:Yes, can you imagine the Mesopotamian guy talking to the Egyptian about this newfangled papyrus. "No way that's going to replace *my* clay tablets! Sure, people will use it for travel, but the smell of the clay in my library! And what would I even do with that room if it didn't hold my copy of Gilgamesh?"

 

I don't think paper books will totally disappear in my life, but they're not going to be the norm in acquiring a new title to read within my life - and sooner than a lot of people think.

 

:lol:

 

Oh the smell of the clay... and the inconvenience of having to unroll those darn scrolls.

 

:lol::lol::lol:

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We all have Kindles and love them. We also buy just about as many books as we did pre-Kindles. How? Simple. Books that are just not important to have on my shelves and I'll likely never read again (aka pretty serious bubble gum fiction), I buy on the Kindle. Others that I love (sometimes the book I read on Kindle and thought previous about) I buy a copy for my shelves.

 

We have 5 packed bookshelves and could really buy a couple more and we burn up the reading on our Kindles as well. In our house the printed book will never be obsolete. But I'll never throw my leather Easton Press Fellowship of the Ring in my purse to read when I'm out and about.

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