This doesn’t have anything to do with science or skepticism, but does come under the heading of “Things That Make People Mad.” Unlike everyone else in the world (or so it seems,) the news that Borders will be closing all their stores did not devastate me.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and some of my fondest childhood memories are of finding treasures in libraries and bookstores. But I don’t want to live in the past. I’m not using a fountain pen or a manual typewriter to write this. It’s time to move on.
Since the invention of the ebook around 40 years ago, the arrival of the first ereader in 1997, and the success of the Amazon Kindle, the writing has been on the wall (or on a small portable device in e-ink.) Now we are hearing about the first solar-powered ereader and the first $50 ereader. Amazon announced earlier this year that it now sells more ebooks than print books.
No, print books won’t disappear. There will always be antiquarian books, books that aren’t available in ebook form and I hope there will always be the thrill of having a signed first edition of a hardcover book by your favorite author. Print books are still better at a few things, particularly in displaying color pictures and charts. It’s easier to lend a print book to someone and they can be re-sold. It can be easier to thumb through a print book to find something. I think advantages in technology will take care of most of these minor issues (for instance, you can now lend some books on the Kindle.)
I don’t understand the objections that some people have to ereaders. One that I see a lot is “there is nothing like the smell of a new book.” I can’t say I’ve ever noticed books having a smell, except some used books (not a good thing.) Maybe they will come up with a “new book scent” air freshener. I also see “I enjoy the feel of a print book” quite often. I suppose if you like things heavier rather than lighter, and things that require two hands rather than one, I might agree. But I’ll take my much lighter Kindle which requires only one finger to instantly turn a page. I also like that I can put it down on the table and read it, unlike paperbacks (unless you have a book weight handy.)
One thing that I believe will increase the use of ereaders is our aging population. Instead of having to buy large print books, which have limited availability, you can make any book a large print book in about two seconds. Being able to easily see the words as well as the lighter weight of ereaders are important benefits.
So, while I sympathize with the employees who are losing their jobs, and I feel for the people who will miss their neighborhood bookstore, I can’t say I am sorry that Borders will disappear. Oh, and another thing that I like about ereaders–I can now get rid of some of the seventeen full-to-bursting bookshelves in my house. Wanna buy some used books?