Reading & Books

Yes, this post will be about reading, about seeing and understanding a collection of different letters that form words that carry a certain meaning (except if you read Asian languages, where there are no “letters” per se)

Reading is an essential part of the modern society, but we have a lot of different reasons to read. We read to be informed, to learn about something, to have a good time, to travel and go on an adventure or we read just because we have to. But what we read most is what changes radically form one person to another. We are all constantly swarmed by text in street signs, ads, leaflets,  manuals, websites. In subtitled movies we spend almost the same time reading than looking at the picture, we may read the paper every day (its actual paper version or the on line one), or follow someones blog ;). We read emails at work, we read emails at home, we read what we write. We read at the supermarket, we read at the bus stop, we read. But do we read something else too? do we read…. books?

Books have been, since Gutenberg and until recently, the best way to store and share information, documentation, stories and pass along ideas and learnings to future generations. Books were, and are for their legacy, one of the greatest tools for human evolution and society’s  growth and development. But this role has now been fulfilled by personal computers and the Internet.

So what is left for our books, whats their destiny in our modern society? What does the future bring for paperback books.

I think the paperback books will disappear, i think their time has come. Wow, shocker? Maybe. But here what i mean: We have to change the concept of a “book”. We have to deconstruct the idea of a book, on one side a book is a series of letters and phrases and concepts linked together, and on the other hand its pages of paper with ink. Our modern concept of book has to keep the first part, and see the second one just as the medium to transport the information. An easy way to understand this is concept is by comparing a paper book with the e-readers (kindle and such) version. The letters and concepts and phrases are the same, but they are delivered to us on a different medium of transport.

Once we made this deconstruction, the idea of classic books “disappearing” is not that hard to embrace.  And i dont mean all those books we already have, and our collections and those beautiful libraries will soon be gone, by no means. I mean, soon we will see no new books being printed, or collections will start to slow their growth, and we will all be taking an e-reader with us instead of a book when we go out of our house.

And just so you know where we stand in this change of paradigm. In may this year, for the first time in its history, Amazon sold more kindle than paperback books. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1565581&highlight.

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Posted on July 18, 2011, in Ideas and concepts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Gonzalo Rodriguez

    Such a subject here. You gotta know you are stepping into a old debate actually. “Should books disappear?” Cause no matter how much neutrality you want to show, that’s the actual question behind it all.

    I stand, as I stand on many subjects, as neutral as I can. You’ll see, I love books, (as the classic concept for book that is =P) I like the shape, the smell and the mysticism attached to the whole package. And its my solid belief that by forsaking books we will lose something irreplaceable. Now “does tech supersede books?” is the actual question to debate.

    I don’t buy the whole “save a tree” argument, there are better ways by far for archiving that goal, but I do think amazon’s kindle and the vast new array of e-readers have much to offer.
    And while storage and availability stand among the biggest pluses, we can’t stop counting what is lost: The soul. Giving a book as a present, will never be the same.

    So I think books still have more than a few years left to live by our sides, even when this fantastic new tech is here to stay.

  2. what he said.

    I’d love to go somewhere and not be weighed down by the pile of books I bought or took with me. E-Readers provide space which is wonderfully useful and you can have more books on you, considerably cheaper.
    But at the same time, the pleasure in unwrapping them, thumbing the pages, reading a snippet or two and hugging it, feeling the weight, letting others hold it, touch the edges, the reliefs on the cover if it has any; the danger of the last pages opening before time…I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

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