Friday, August 19, 2011

The Printed Word

source: flickr

I was in Barnes and Noble this last week and was struck by an ad I saw there.  I normally visit my local, independent bookstore for all my book needs, but I was waiting to meet with my advisor at school.  I had both of the girls and B & N happens to be next to the school.  Anyways, the ad I saw showed a young child sitting in a window seat.  Sunlight is streaming through the large window and the child looks thoroughly engrossed in whatever it is he is reading.  But he wasn't holding a large picture book or a well-worn paperback novel....he was holding a Nook.

This picture stopped me in my tracks.  I honestly felt that this ad looked like it could be a scene from a science-fiction movie.  The story would be set in a world where physical books no longer exist.  Everything you read is on a portable mini-computer.  Then, a deadly virus destroys these mini-computers and the world is left without the written word in any form.  All the classics, Tolstoy, Austen, Shakespeare, all vanish.  The world then slowly declines until mankind is extinct.

Dramatic?  Maybe.

Then I began to think about what the world will look like when my daughters are my age.  Are books going to become like records, collected by a few, die-hard fans?  Will the printed word even exist?  Will they have a physical connection to books like I do?  Will they enjoy the weight of a book in their hands?  Will they see the way a paperback's spine shows its wear?  Will they feel the softness of a book's pages as they turn?  Will they be able to open a used book and inhale its sweet, musty scent?

There is something about the connection with a physical, printed book that makes reading that much more enjoyable.  Will this same connection exist with an electronic version of a book?  I have my doubts. I just can't see how the experience of reading a physical book can be matched by reading a book with the newest piece of digital technology. 

So, from this point on, I am making a commitment to read the printed word.  Hopefully, this love for the printed word will be passed on to my daughters, and they can help books and other writings remain a physical part of their world. 

Do you own a Nook or a Kindle?  Do you read books on your phone?

Are book an endangered species? 

1 comment:

  1. I always wonder if the library will adapt to new technology. Will it be possible to "check out" an e-book? If not... sadly I think libraries will become a thing of the past.