Printed books: irreplaceable reading media
It would be much easier to manage if we just download all the books to an I-Pad or Kindle. But there is always something about print that we can never give up. It is something about holding a printed book in your hand and taking the instinctive act of physically turning a page that can not be matched with pixels on a screen.
Perhaps there is a reason to hope that e-books and printed books could have a bright future together. Because for all the great things e-books had accomplished: convenience, selection, portability and multimedia, however, there are still some fundamental qualities they will never simply possess.
Books can define a person. Our favorite books define us, but digital versions don't seem to impart connections that are quite as deep. To some degree, a printed book is a second self. Just as a saying goes, “In your present temperament, hide the road you have walked, the books you have read and the people you have loved.” Indeed, printed books should be one of the best criteria for defining a person. Although appearance and behavior can also define a person, they seem less objective and intuitive than paper. No matter how our faces and personalities change, the curly paper that has been turned over countless times is changeless. It has always been there, giving others eternal definition about us. It is also the close connection between books and people that has contributed to the unshakable position of printed books in people’s minds.
Printed books are collectible. John Ruskin once said, “All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour, and the books of all time.” To some extent, all books in the market, whether electronic or other types, are the incarnations of printed books. Print and paper have a lasting value that people appreciate, pixels are too temporary. Printed books have been around for a very long time and people have a deeper relationship with printed books than most digital content. The collectable significance of every printed book can be reflected in its exquisite cover, and the wrinkled sandy paper, that is what digital books don’t enjoy. So, it is reasonable to believe that printed books still have their superiorities, which will not be replaced for a while.
Books are nostalgic. Paper books won't get replaced by e-books, because there's just a part of the experience we can't reproduce— our nostalgia for the past. It seems to be smart to bet that print sales will continue to decline, while e-book sales will continue to rise. Most of us will own fewer printed books, but we can’t wrench ourselves away from our sentiments of nostalgia sealed on paper. It's a mistake to assume that the MP3 will replace the CD, or the CD will replace the cassette. There may come a time when we regard electronic books and printed books as two divergent media, but printed books will never lose their appeal to readers.
As a matter of fact, the choice between e-books and printed books is not a zero-sum game. Printed books do not have to disappear for e-books to flourish, and e-books don't have to be the only choice. So, I think the harmonious coexistence of the two should be what we most expect to see.
Printed books are for people who love printed books. Digital books are for those who love digital books. Maybe it’s just that simple.