Towards the end of books?
Definition of a book: a number of sheets of paper, parchment, etc. with writing or printing on them, fastened together along one edge, usually between protective covers
Definition of an e-book: A small, portable device onto which the contents of a book in electronic format can be downloaded and read.
But will both remain existing in the future?
In this era of digitalization it’s not surprising that publishers from whatever kind of content will seek their audience online. If we miss a television program on tv, we just download the program on the internet. If we want to listen to particular music, we download it from the Internet. If we want to see a movie that hasn’t been brought out yet, we download is from the Internet. And this will be the future of all publishing. Just like E-books. They are nothing new, but the way they are replacing books is. New ways of making digital reading more convenient, besides reading it from your computer screen, are being invented. The kobo wireless e-reader, The reader pocket edition (Sony) and the Kogan E-book Reader are just a few examples of devices that change our reading experience.
The reason why new devices and applications are being invented to make digital reading easier is because digital publishing has a lot of benefits for the users, writers and producers. By eliminating paper, printing and physical storage, a lot of costs will be reduced. Also the ability to search electronics files efficiently and receive files quickly make the e-book attractive. And since we’re already getting used to reading on screen, its easier to adjust to digital reading.
What makes it easy for writers is that they all can become their own publisher. They can free themselves from publishers and sell it directly to consumers. By doing this they develop a much closer connection to consumers.
And even if they stick to their publishers, the benefits for publishers are that they can eliminate printers and bookstores. Online booksellers are moving into the publishers’ business, printing digitized books themselves and selling their own electronic editions. A publisher’s ultimate responsibility is to get the work to the largest-possible audience and the Internet has that potential.
But besides all these benefits of online publishing, I’m just wondering how far the digitalization of books will go. Will it undergo the same evolution of a mobile phone, with which we were first just able to call each other. Later we could send small text messages. Now we can listen to music, browse the internet en make pictures all in one. And just like the television, that now may still be a device on it’s own, but it will become one with the computer screen or visa versa in the near future. Will a book, although published online, remain a book? Or will it be more than words and illustrations?
I could image that e-books will become lively texts with video images and audio sounds. And will we still be able to call it a ‘book’ at that time?
The digital revolution will certainly change our books and affects the way we read, besides offering us more convenience and access, better prices and less weight. But it might be worth pausing to wonder whether all these changes offered by this convenient new technology are ones we want to embrace.
Romano, Frank. E-Books and the Challenge of Preservation.
Rochester Institute of Technology, p.23 https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub106/pub106.pdf#page=27