Joho the Blog » Will books survive? A scorecard…

Will books survive? A scorecard…

New media generally don’t replace old media, as Marshall McLuhan pointed out. After TV we still have radio. After telephones we had telegrams for a good long while. So what about books? After we have networked digital books, we’ll still have and produce physical books. But will physical books be as ubiquitous and culturally important as radio? Or will they be as cherished but infrequently attended as live theater?

In my interview with Cory Doctorow, I wondered, in the midst of an overly-elaborate three-part question, whether ebooks will provide enough of what we value about physical books (pbooks) that pbooks will lose the historic significance Cory had pointed to.

We won’t know the answer until we invent the future. But, I’m going to hypothesize, predict, or stipulate (pick one) that at some point we will have ebooks (which may be distinct hardware or be software running in something other device we carry around), with paper-quality displays that are full-color and multimedia, that are fully on the Net, with software that lets us interact with the book and with other readers, that are a part of the standard outfitting of citizens, and within a physical environment that provides ubiquitous Net connectivity.

Those are a lot of assumptions, of course, and each and every one of them could be disrupted by some 17 year old at work in her parents’ basement. Nevertheless, if the future is something like that, then what of pbooks’ value will be left unreplaced by ebooks?

Readability. I’m assuming paper-quality displays, which may turn out to be unattainable without having to wheel around batteries the size of suitcases. But, even without that, the ability of ebooks to display text in various fonts and sizes should remove this advantage from pbooks.

Convenience. I am assuming that ebooks will be more convenient than pbooks: as good in sunlight as pbooks, at least as easy to hold and use, easier to use for those with certain disabilities, long enough battery life, possibly self-lit, etc. The biggest open question, I believe, is whether it will be as easy to annotate ebooks…

Annotatability. The current crop of ebooks make highlighting passages and making notes so difficult that you have to take a break from reading to do either of those things. But, that’s one big reason why the current crop of ebooks are pathetic. With a touchscreen and a usable keyboard (or handwriting recognition software), ebooks of the future should be as easy to annotate as a pbook is. And those annotations will then become more useful, since they will be searchable and sharable.

Affordability. The marginal cost of producing ebook content is tiny, which doesn’t mean prices will drop as dramatically as we might like. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine a world in which ebook content costs more than pbooks.

Social flags. You probably carefully choose which book you’re going to bring with you on a job interview, and which books get moved to the shelves in your living room. We use the books we own as tribal flags, as Cory points out. Ebooks can serve the same role when introduced into social networks, including social networks explicitly built around books, such as LibraryThing.com. They obviously don’t work in physical space that way; if you want to show off your books to people who visit your home, you’re going to have to get physical copies.

Aesthetic objects. Many of us love the feel and smell of books. While ebooks might be able to simulate that in some way — maybe their page displays could yellow over time — it’d still just be a simulation. While ebooks will undoubtedly develop their own aesthetics, so that we’ll call people over to see how beautiful this or that new ebook is, they can’t replace the particular aesthetics of pbooks. So, those who love pbooks will continue to cherish them.

Sentimental objects. For my bar mitzvah, some friend of my parents gave me a leatherbound copy of A.E. Housman’s “A Shropshire Lad” and other poems. It was a beautiful aesthetic object, but I also understood that it had a personal meaning to the giver. I doubt that that particular copy did — I don’t think it came from his own collection — but the physicality of the book was itself a marker for the personal meaning it had for the giver. As Cory says, the books your father read — the very copies that were in his hands — probably have special meaning to you. It’s hard to see how ebooks could have the same sentimental value, except perhaps if you are reading the highlights and notes left by your father, and even then, it’s not the same.

Historic objects. Likewise, knowing that you’re looking at the very copy that was read by Thomas Jefferson gives a book an historic value that ebook content just can’t have. It’s hard to see how an author could autograph an ebook in any meaningful way.

Historical objects. As John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid have pointed out, as has Anthony Grafton, books as physical objects collect metadata that can be useful to historians, e.g., the smell of vinegar that indicates the book came from a town visited by cholera. Ebooks, however, accumulate and generate far more metadata. So, we will lose some types of metadata but gain much more…maybe more than our current norms of privacy are comfortable with.

Specialized objects. It will take somewhere between an improbably long time and forever for all collections of pbooks to be digitized. Thus, books in special collections are likely to be required well after we can take the presence of ebooks for granted.

Possessions. We are headed towards a model that grants us licenses to read books, but not outright ownership. (This is Cory’s main topic in the interview.) If we lose ownership of ebooks, then they won’t have the sentimental value, they will lose some of their economic value to readers (because we won’t be able to resell them or buy them cheaper used), and we won’t be as invested in them culturally. Whether ebooks will be ownable, and whether that will be the default of the exception, is unresolved.

Single-mindedness. Books are the exemplar in our culture of thinking. We write our best thoughts in books. We engage with the best thoughts of others by reading books. Books encourage and enable long-form thinking. Ebooks, because they are (ex hypothesis) on the Net, are distracting. They string together associated chunks and tempt us with links beyond themselves. It is easy to imagine ebooks providing the singleminded pbook experience: “Press here to remove all links.” But, of course, you could always unpress the button. Besides, since your ebook is on the Net (ex hypothesis), all that’s stopping you from jumping out of the book and into your email or Facebook is self-discipline. So, while ebooks can provide the singledminded experience of pbooks, some of us may prefer the paper version to keep the distraction of the Net at bay.

Religious objects. Some books have special meaning within some religions. It’s hard to imagine, for example, that an ebook is going to replace the Torah scrolls in synagogues. In fact, orthodox Jews can’t use electronic devices on the Sabbath, so they are certainly going to continue to buy pbooks. But, this is the very definition of a specialty market.

So, what does all this mean for the future of books? It depends.

First, are there other values of pbooks that I left off the list?

Second, I haven’t listed any unique advantages of ebooks. For example, ebooks will allow social reading: Engaging with others who are reading the book or with the traces left by those who have already it. That’s pretty important. Also, ebooks are likely to radically reduce the cost of reading, especially of some categories of overpriced pbooks (e.g., textbooks). Also, ebooks will make it much easier to understand the content of books through embedded dictionaries, search capabilities, and links to explanatory discussions. Also, as more of the corpus gets digitized, ebooks will make it far easier for scholars to pursue the footnotes (except they’ll be embedded links, not footnotes). Also, ebooks will incorporate multimedia. Also, reading ebooks will build a searchable personal corpus that is far more useful to us than bookcases filled with out conquered pbooks. Also, we’ll always have our entire library with us, ready to be read or reread, which is good news for readers.

I leave it to you to decide how this mix of values is likely to play out. What will be the social role and meaning of pbooks as we go forward into the ebook era? In twenty years — giving ourselves plenty of time to develop usable ebook readers, to digitize most of what we need, and to built an always-available network — will pbooks be used mainly by collectors, and scholars working with unique texts? Will they be sentimental objects? The poor person’s medium? Will physical books be the equivalent of AM radio, of the road company of “Cats,” of quaint objects in book museums — and/or the continuing pinnacle and embodiment of learning?v

41 Responses to “Will books survive? A scorecard…”

  1. Thanks for the meditation on the future of books. I like your categories, especially annotation. A primary joy of mine is writing in books I own–feels like a conversation.

    I wonder if books and newsprint will sooner become luxury items (http://bit.ly/2ApK9m )?

  2. You’ve left out an attribute that, for lack of a better term, might be called serendipity. My bookcase is much more than a social flag to others: it is a part of my environment that serves as a constant reminder of books I’ve read and thought worth keeping. As I pass by in the middle of some unrelated task, my eye may fall on a book and I’ll be prompted to pick it up and start (re-) reading. This isn’t always so good for that other task, but it enriches my life immensely.

  3. Affordability is about more than content: what about the readers? How many readers do I need to be able to read in all the places I read now (without carrying one around with me)? How cheap does an ebook reader have to be before I can treat it with the casualness of a paperback? If I didn’t remember one, will I pick up a reader at the airport before a flight the way I might a pbook?

  4. On serendipity: We are creating new sources of serendipity in the ebook world.

    For example, I have never heard of this blog before. I followed a link posted by someone on my Twitter feed. Sounds like a source of serendipity to me. And the scope isn’t restricted to those things on my bookshelf.

    (Although I could see a market for an ebook reader like those digital picture frames; it just shows a random book cover every so often, and you could pick it up and read the random book.)

  5. Probably will be hard for us that’s used to read pbooks for 30+ years – but what will those growing up chose? My guess is the same discussion was held when the book replaced the scroll…
    http://bit.ly/55U5WS

  6. Janm, I totally agree with you: The Net is such an enabler of serendipity that many (most?) of us have problems not being distracted by it.

    Joe, sorry, but I don’t see why what you say wouldn’t also have been argument against the success of laptops or smart phones. Anyway, I think it’s quite likely that ebooks will not be dedicated devices like Kindles, but will be part of a more generalized device that we carry with us like a phone or a wallet. (In fact, it probably will be a phone and a wallet also.)

  7. Children.

    I don’t see ebooks being used for infants’ introduction to reading any time soon. Pbooks are far more durable with respect to the kind of damage infants and toddlers do, and even when they can’t survive the chewing or spilling or what-have-you, they can at least be replaced cheaply (and without the loss of anything other than that volume; one hopes Net-enabled ebooks would be fully backed up, annotations & user-created content as well as purchased content, but…)

    (Also pictures and color are far more important for children’s books and not presently well-supported, but your hypothesis has taken care of that.)

    So I don’t see ebooks replacing, say, board books, or early readers. But I do wonder if the world you outline is one in which, therefore, physical books are associated with children and treated as signs of immaturity — talismanised for their historic value perhaps, but shunned in actual use by anyone over the age of 10.

  8. Two additional angles to consider:

    One is that technology is also improving on the other end: On-demand book printing makes physical books cheap and fast to acquire. This technology counters a number of the cost-saving measures of e-books, while preserving many of the best properties of physical books:

    http://www.printweek.com/news/575457/

    The second is the fact that many times a physical book is the simplest and most durable solution to the problem. Consider situations where power is scarce or non-existent, such as:

    1. Living in (or traveling to) a country without reliable power
    2. Hiking
    3. Space travel, where electricity exists but is needed for other purposes

  9. […] Shared Will books survive? A scorecard.. […]

  10. You seem to be arguing that ebooks will replace pbooks when ebooks sufficiently mimic pbooks.

    Though I leave room to allow that a sufficiently advanced technology can produce an experience indistinguishable from that provided by paper-bound books, it’s not the point.

    Books persist because we have a culture that values them and an industry that can profit from them. But the publishing industry is suffering the same pressure to produce unreasonable profits as the music industry and will likely experience considerable restructuring. And given numbers that suggest reading of books and other published works is in decline, especially among youth, one has to wonder how much longer books will carry their cultural weight.

    The truth is that most people experience and value books only at a distance. All our discussion of the conveniences and affordances of pbooks are wasted on them.

    So we really have to ask: will books survive the cultural and economic shifts that face them long enough to be effectively translated into some electronic form? Or will we invent some new media that replaces the economic and cultural value that we enjoy in them?

    I value books and, as you describe, think carefully about which books to display or be seen with, but my reading practice is heavily tilted toward electronic works: I spend about two or three hours daily reading electronic texts, but only an hour or less on printed material. It may be over sharing, but my iPhone has joined me in the bath so that I may read blogs, docs, and twitter posts from its tiny screen.

    On the other hand, the publishing industry’s bread and butter is in romance novels that appeal “largely older, less affluent female buyer.” The future of pbooks is probably in their hands.

  11. It has seemed to me that the comparison of *a* printed book to *a* digital book is rather missing the point. More apt is to compare *a* digital device to *a* library. In this library are texts, videos, newspapers, magazines, and all kinds of weird things that ended up in the library for all kinds of reasons.

    So, when we say that there are a lot of distractions on the web, this is entirely true, but there can also be lots of distractions in a library, with people walking around and talking, different magazines vying for your attention, public lectures scheduled, people doing strange things in the stacks and bathrooms, and so on, all of this going on while you are trying to concentrate on your book.

    And, while an ebook device may cost a few hundred dollars, this must be compared to buying an entire library of books. Thanks to all of the digitization projects, many of which allow you to download for free, a single ebook reader now can represent quite literally a million-book library, with some of the finest works ever produced (although not the most recent).

    Given all of this, it seems as if a digital book reader would be a great value since it could give me zillions of the best books of all time for free immediately. My hope is that people may actually read some of these older books that are free, compare them to some of the pulp published today, and question which is more valuable. There were a lot of romance novels published earlier that are now in the public domain. Maybe the fact that they are free will make them more interesting to the public again.

  12. Interesting. You are assuming that people want typed annotation, which I’m not sure is true. Underlining, bracketing or quick diagram sketches are trivial with pbooks but would require a decent touch screen being integrated to the ebook display.

    The religious comment is also interesting, because electronic Bibles are extremely common. What’s interesting here is that a product that costs money when people buy the physical version has become free online and on iPhone application with the approval of the publisher.

    There’s also the file format issue. As soon as we enable things like annotations we require them to be carried around with the original ebook. This plus the inevitable (and hopefully short term) push for DRM means that formats are going to remain an issue until we have the OpenDocument equivalent standard developed and used pervasively.

    The killer app for ebooks I think will be searching and huge online libraries of public sector books. As a publisher I’d be looking at a Steam style model where people pay for the virtual good and can download anywhere to any hardware they own.

    What will happen to pbooks? I imagine it will be like vinyl records, where MP3 is massive but many people take great pleasure in the traditional approach. Likewise attractively bound hardbacks will become more common (compare with album art being more important for physical music sales) because consumers will have the feel of the product as an important purchase consideration.

  13. “pbooks” as you call them will endure for one reason if no other: “pbooks” are available when the plug and the battery and the screen fail. Period.

  14. I won an e-reader at a conference, and if it were not for that, I probably wouldn’t have bought one. I think I will use it for free books, inexpensive books, or new releases that I absolutely just can not wait for the price to come down. There are many authors of fiction that I love and I collect their books for the beautiful matching covers (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Harry Potter, etc.) and for the physical joy of having them. With the e-books, it is often difficult to refer back to previous points, which is helpful is lengthy historical novels. I will probably buy a little of both, I guess. I’m not very scholarly, just an ordinary reader of fiction who came across your blog via google apps. I find this discussion fascinating. I still love bookstores, but I love the ereader at night and on weekend trips. Just grab and go. As for camping, hiking, foreign travel, I find a charge lasts for 3-4 weeks, reading 1-2 hrs daily if the wireless is turned off.

  15. Books as physical objects will survive precisely because books are not objects.

  16. I wrote my take on the “paper vs plastic” debate back earlier this year on my site: http://www.dan-london.com/2009/kindle2-ebook-paperback-debate/

    I read a ton of RSS feeds on my iPhone, but don’t really see myself reading large chunks of text on any device. I love going to the bookstore and browsing as well, such a large part of my reading experience that would be gone if e-readers take over.

  17. Its personal – often think about a particular type of eBook – the Audio Book. For me this is much more important than typical eBook, because it opens new possibilities for reading – you can read while driving, biking, walking. When you clean your house, wait in a line to store’s checkout and in many other places and situations you would never consider reading.
    In theory, any eBook can not only be read but also listened to – and for me this is something. Wherever I go I promote them.

    However, despite this audio capacity, ebooks will never replace pbooks. Pbooks are special and I believe they will never disappear.

    I could point three reasons, I think are important:

    1) No distractibility. You described this feature in “Single-mindedness” . We all know that there is
    shadow part of our Web experience – it is the amount of distraction we get there.
    I’m sure that no one of us would spent, say 8 hours with the eBook without following
    a link, without – plainly – distraction.
    pbooks allow for more concentration, without strong-mindedness :-)

    2) The special notion of bookshelves, libraries, bookstores.
    Maybe hard to explain, but when you are in Paris, please go
    to Shakespeare & Company on La Bucherie street.
    Such places and the special atmosphere of books there
    will not cease to exist ….
    See: http://sopekmir.blogspot.com/2009/09/dave-eggers-in-paris.html

    3) Religious importance. Your notes about scrolls is one thing.
    We cannot imagine Shabbat prayers without Torah scroll.
    However, there is something more important.
    Books became the objects in ceremonies, objects of special
    meaning and importance. They became parts of liturgy
    for numerous religions of the world.
    Something is in them that is not replaceable by eBooks.
    It is not any magic or fetishistic – books have significance
    for our prayers, no matter it is in synagogue, church or mosk.
    The word of G-d was transmitted physically and this physicality still matters….

    I’m thankful you raised this issue. Books are very important to me, and while I appreciate the eBook era is coming, I’m sure pbooks will survive….

  18. You need to recognized that “books” are actually many different kinds of media, and the “survivability” of each kind needs to be evaluated separately. In addition, you need to define “survive.”

    For the latter, by my definition of survive, vinyl records have not survived. In other words, a product needs to be fairly widely used and be a growing market, not a niche market that does grow but only goes through periodic micro-spikes from fads.

    With that out of the way:

    — Popular paperback novels will not survive, and will be supplanted by e-book readers.

    — Dictionaries will not survive. They will re placed by being integrated into reading and writing software and operating systems (the Kindle is an example; OS X is an example). Specialize subsets of dictionarys, such as books on etymology will become e-books.

    — Reference books will not survive. They will be replaced by the internet and Web sites, not e-books. This is particularly true of computer language reference books now, but will happen for all reference books.

    — Visual art books will be replaced by the internet or Web sites, except to the extent that the book itself is considered the art work, not the individual images in the book. But this will be a fringe form of art, along the lines of performance art today.

    — Nonfiction books that are primarily text, but which have photo inserts, will not survive. Readers will read the books as e-books, perhaps with some photos, but will mostly get their visual information (photos, maps, charts) by occasionally consulting the internet during the period in which they read the book. In this way, they are not limited to, say, 3 photos of Abraham Lincoln, but rather can visit any of the several sites that have collected every single extant photo of Lincoln.

    When I say something will be replaced by the internet, note that the e-book reader itself may have access to the internet in a meaningful way (rather than a Kindle way) in the future, or the e-book reader may be only one function of a multipurpose device, if displays advance to be more paperlike. Will that happen? Beyond the problems with backlit displays, Kindle owners will tell you that the fact the the Kindle battery never runs out is one of its charms. You just never think of the battery. (Never is an exaggeration, but that’s how it feels, when battery life approaches 2 weeks.)

  19. “New media generally don’t replace old media, as Marshall McLuhan pointed out. After TV we still have radio. After telephones we had telegrams for a good long while. So what about books?”

    Your analogies are incorrect. They are comparing different content, not different delivery.

    Radio and TV are two different types of media. Telegrams and telephone are differnt types of media. Only tv movies and cinema movies are comparable and I think even cinema will become niche or maybe die in the long run as we get the cinema presentation in the home.

    pbooks vs ebooks is more like records vs mp3’s. Yes records still sell because people like the smell of vinyl and the artistic packaging. Records are niche though and mp3s provide almost all the advantages for listening to music.

  20. Michael,

    I am sure you are not right. First of all, I do not believe cinemas will die – there is something in the experience of community there that makes the experience different from that of a couch … But I’m not about this issue.

    I do not agree that the content of pBook and eBook is identical. For some books – sure – it is. But there is such big difference that has roots just in physicality of pBooks that I do think McLuhan rule can be applied to them.
    I experience this difference quite often with audio books.
    With some books, after listening, I read them as pBooks – and I always find there MORE. Sometimes is vice verse – some audio eBooks have senses different from that in paper.
    I know it may sound strange – but when you go closer to poetry – my distinction is almost obvious…

    Having this in mind, I find comparison to vinyl’s just improper.
    BTW, take good vinyl, take high quality analogue phonograph and you also will hear the difference between physical, non-digitized sound, and cd – I even do not mention mp3.
    True connoisseurs do not do that for smell of vinyl or large nice packing. They do so for the truer sound….

    There is probably similar truth about pBooks. Physicality matters.

  21. What if the future is not in a digital device but rather an internal projector ?

    my view is that something like the eyetap invented by steve mann will be the final form of our digital life
    I tried once, if you have a screen projected right into your eye, the screen become as big as your horizon, living you with plenty of space on your desktop
    all it takes is a hand motion device to browse trough the documents

    it will probably not happen before 10 to 20 years, but it is so easy to carry around and to integrate with our wondering life that I don’t see why not

    I agree with the reflections you did on the future of the papery book, it will probably become, as mcluhan said, a form of art
    something for collectors and an experience to show off like reading poems on a bench in the park

    for what it will be left out in the switch
    I would say identity, intellectual ownership, and the idea that closing an argument is a good thing

  22. Dave, I just listened to your conversation with Cory Doctorow. Would you be available by any chance for a 20-minute interview this afternoon (11/24) or tomorrow for my Kindle Chronicles audio podcast to talk more about these issues? I’m in Cambridge, so we could do it in person – or by Skype/phone. Thanks.

  23. This is an interesting set of possible analogies– will pbooks be like candles (kept around for use during power outages), toys (like a Fisher-Price plastic tool set used to help children get ready for the real thing), or vinyl LPs (kept alive for analog features)?

    Probably all three. Print is leaving the mainstream, which is becoming firmly digital. But I bet it will survive in many niche markets for some of the reasons presented here.

  24. David, an interesting post and a thoughtful one. But I think you missed an aspect that is well worth drawing out. This has to do with particular genres of books, since you cannot treat all books as the same. Some will undoubtedly fall to their electronic equivalents (can you say “textbook”?), while others never will — for example, board books, unless you want your two-year-old to teethe on your Kindle. So although you attempted to create some distinctions for special kinds of books (e.g., “historic objects”) I think you are missing some additional categories that will continue to have lives beyond the e-revolution (e.g., coffee-table books come to mind, unless your average family can afford a Microsoft Surface). In a nutshell, your very first sentence remains all too true.

  25. As a school librarian, I often wonder about where we are headed with print versus digital content. I find the back and forth interesting, and clearly no one has an exact idea of where things are headed. I will throw out one item for consideration. I put together a cart of books on the Rennaisance for a teacher to take to their classroom for a project. The teacher reported that she was fascinated to watch the students (high school kids, pure online creatures) thumb through the huge, colorful, picture-filled works. They were so engaged in the books that the project was secondary. I think the distraction issue with internet is so true – I can’t see that the kind of “reading” done on the internet can compare to the joy of going through a fine art book, a great history book, a fine piece of literature, etc., etc. More is not necessarily better, and while it sounds great to have a library of millions of books digitally at your fingertips, I can’t help but compare it to doing a Google search – millions of results, but who looks after the second page? Internet reading is often spastic, short-bursts to find particular information or articles or whatever, whereas a book, a real book, encourages a deeper investment in time and quality.

  26. […] installment in the ongoing debate about the future of electronic books versus paper books in his Will books survive? A scorecard… […]

  27. This discussion reloaded….

    In a comment to David’s post on my blog I added another rationale for my conviction about long life of pBooks.

    In a nutshell – I think the pBook delivers the medium of primary experience to literature. It is like concert of live music to MP3. The live music will always be there.
    The pbooks will also survive. That’s my opinion….

  28. “It is like concert of live music to MP3. The live music will always be there.”

    False Analogy. Live concerts to MP3’s would be like comparing campfire story telling or book readings to live music.

    People keep forgetting that the book is just delivery device to get information from the author to the reader. As long as any new delivery device can adequately convey the content then it can supercede the old delivery device.

  29. Michael,

    Disagree. Book Reading or audible story telling is not the primary experience people have with literature. Live performance is primary for music.

    When it comes to second clause: yes you are right it is a delivery device. Reading (listening) more books in audio than in paper – I know it very well. But pBook also has something more in itself that eBooks don’t have. We discussed it here, I added some thoughts on my blog. It has been like this since time immemorial, since long before Gutenberg, long after, and, I believe, it will be like despite hyperlinked devices for book reading.

    I agree – it may be my strong personal faith only …

  30. […] vs P-böcker David Weinberger  författare till Everything is Miscellaneous har skrivit ett intressant inlägg om bokens eventuella […]

  31. Can you guide on a high definition review website. I got this from my friend looks ok

    High definition camera

    Bob

  32. As an experiment I downloaded the Kindle app to my iPod last summer. At that time I was struggling to get through Doris Kearn Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. The book ( paperback) was huge. The type was small and I found it a very difficult read.
    So for fun, I downloaded the book on my iPod and started reading. It was the first digital book I read. To my amazement, having fewer words, in a larger font on the screen made it a much easier read for me.
    What also surprised me is that I didn’t miss holding the book…that sucker is heavy. My iPod is something I can hold on the treadmill. My conversion to digital was breathtakingly fast. I whipped through the book on my iPod. I was astonished.
    I am 58 years old. I am a reader. I love rooms that are crammed with books, and spending time in a Bookstore just browsing is pure joy….but…
    the pbook ( this is a new term and I love it) is just form. The “book” is the content. Will I miss having books on book shelves? Yes and No. I love the aesthetics that books bring to a room but I won’t miss packing books when I have to move.
    What struck me the most in this conversation was the part about Children’s Books. When my kids were young they’d go to the bookshelf and pull the book(S) they wanted me to read. It was a real sense of empowerment. I’m not sure how the digital world can recreate that particular experience or whether they should.
    I can say that having a dictionary embedded in the reader ( B&N reader on iPod is embedded) is an absolute joy and I am definitely looking up more words than I ever did when I had to use a stand alone dictionary.
    While I understand that the attachments to books is textured with cultural, emotional and historical values, I think the new kid on the block should be welcomed with open arms.

  33. […] Will books survive? A scorecard… […]

  34. An art book (or artbook) may mean a conventional book on art or art history, or an artist’s book, which is a work of art in the form of a book, usually produced in a small limited edition, often not just using normal printing techniques. The term might also cover graphic novels, books of anime and other types of graphics, or books of fine art photography. It is not generally used for illuminated manuscripts, though these are both art and books.”

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