Bye Bye Books: Mourning the Loss of Real Live Books

Bye Bye Books: Mourning the Loss of Real Live Books

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Jason Yang
Oct 3, 2011

Books are big business. Sales of physical and digital books reached almost $12 billion (billion with a B) in 2010. Earlier this year Amazon reported that it sold more digital books than regular books. But to what advantage do we gain in losing the paper and going digital? Join us as we explore the pros and cons of eBooks versus book books.

Saying goodbye to storytime and memories save for in our minds
Many of us have fond memories of dragging along our favorite books everywhere we went - bringing them on vacation or reading them aloud in bed as we gently fell asleep to familiar characters and stories. Our torn and tattered copies were like security blankets and seeing them now as adults brings back a wealth of loving memories. Storytime gathered around an adult giving their all at funny character voices as we followed the pictures both in the pages and in our heads just won't be the same as mom reads from her Amazon Kindle Fire. We somehow have our doubts on whether an eBook file will have the same effect.

What happens to book signings?
"Hello sir, fancy to meet you. I thoroughly enjoyed your book - will you be so kind as to CC me a copy of your digital signature? Make it out to jasony@apartmenttherapy.com, thanks!"

An entire side industry killed
How will Hallmark and other kitschy vendors survive without their lucrative bookmark business? To the recycling bin goes all those "Hello Kitty" bookmarks which have so much history and memory pressed up against the pages which we dove into night after night. Sure they tried to have a little fun and jump out now and again but how boring it is to simply resume where you left off without retracing your steps?

How will Skymall and the like survive without pawning off crappy clip-on reading lights? eBook backlights allowing us to read anytime in any amount of darkness is to blame. Funny it used to be hard to read in too much sunlight as light reflected off the pages burned holes in our retinas. Now we squint to make out the text on a crappy backlight.

Booksheves lose their will to live without a true purpose in life
IKEA renames its entire section to "Shelves Which Now Simply Hold Miscellaneous Decorative Crap, Used to be Useful for Holding That Which Shall Not Be Named." We'll have to settle for the fake digital version in iBooks, with swipes of the finger on cold hard Gorilla Glass instead of down dusty spines and lovely fake gold embossed lettering.

Digital collecting just isn't the same
Speaking of bookshelves, no more are we able to lovingly look at and care for our huge book collection which we've collected over the years and proudly display on bookshelves as flags of our well read-ness. Now how will we show off those volumes of ancient history books that we bought with intent to read but pretense as to whether anyone knows we did or not - for it's on the bookshelf, must be a smart guy/gal!

Whatever happened to choice?
With the death of physical books we lose out on that tradition of selecting which books to bring with us on vacation, taking up but a ton of valuable carry on luggage space - damn the checked baggage fees preventing us from bringing out entire library to pretend we'll relax and read while at the beach or visiting a charming little town in a foreign country. We now are slaves without choice, forced to bring along every single eBook we own in the space of a single real book. Our choice has been stripped away from us. We are now all mindless readers and followers within the eBook ecosystem.

(Images: Bookshelf Porn; Flickr members The U.S. Army, >WonderMike<, WordRidden, bradleypjohnson, Pen Waggenner licensed for use under Creative Commons)

(Sources: 2010 Book and E-Book Sales Data for the United States, E-Books Outsell Print Books at Amazon)

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