Print Books – Can’t Live With ’em, Can’t Live Without ’em

stack of booksRecently, I put my house on the market, and as part of the staging process, the realtor had my wife and I pack up and store about two thirds of our over 5,000 books.  The idea is to reduce visual clutter and let prospective buyers imagine their own items on the bookshelves.  The entire agonizing process got me to thinking about e-books.  What if all those physical books were e-books?  How much easier it would be to move them!  Put the trusty Kindle or Sony Reader under my arm and walk out the door.

Then I started imagining the different kind of havoc technology could wreak on my all e-book library.  Think about the e-book players.  When technology invades an industry, it usually brings with it a fast and unforgiving pace of innovation.  The e-book is no exception.  e-book formats come and go; players quickly become extinct; the companies that store those digital libraries can go under or their libraries hacked.  As a reminder of the shaky ground of technology I had only to look at that box of old records – LPs – that I uncovered as part of the packing up effort.  They were made irrelevant and essentially useless (except as collector’s items) by CDs, which suffered the same fate at the hands of iPods and other MP3 players.  And those devices and the MP3 format itself may be in the gun sight of some garage technologist as I write this.

Suddenly my multi-ton load of print books didn’t seem so much trouble after all.  As long as I have eyes (and glasses) to read them with, I’ll always be able to enjoy the stories and information they have to share.  No batteries or tech smarts required.  I know the future belongs to the e-book; and I am excited by its possibilities.  After all, early readers  probably had similar angst about switching from scrolls to paged books.  Do not fear – I’ll march bravely forward with the e-book revolution.  But when my time comes, I want to my print books to accompany me on that journey to the other side.

Medieval helpdesk (with English subtitles)


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