Will the Printed Book Ever Become Extinct? Let’s Hope Not!

I’m a member of Generation X. My heydays were the eighties and nineties. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that I belong to the generation that owns the dubious distinction of being on the forefront of the technological evolution. I lived in an era that didn’t have cell phones, personal computers or bottled water. The things that many people who are twenty or younger take for granted today are all things that I have seen arrive and evolve. Yet, for all of technological wizardry at our fingertips, I can’t help but feel that from a historical perspective, we’ve only dipped our feet in the pool.

We still have a long way to go, which Siva Vaidhyanathan’s article Generational Myth points out in detail. There is a generational gap that many who haven’t fully embraced the wave of change fall into. We live in a time that features both books and Kindles. When I finish writing this tonight, I’m going to curl up in bed with a good book – a great book actually. It’s Kitty Kelly’s biography of Frank Sinatra, called His Way.  It’s a monster of a book, too. It’s over six hundred pages and I’m about three quarters of the way through it. I consider it to be the “dessert” of my day. When all the work is done, I get to escape into a world of movie stars, Mafioso’s and money. I’ve read hundreds of books for education, work and pleasure and I can’t imagine a time that I’ll ever be without one.

This brings up a really interesting question in my mind. I figure I’ve got another fifty years on this planet and I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for printed matter; especially my beloved books. Will electronic technology ever take the place of a good old-fashioned book? I think not, and here’s why. A book holds some sort of psychological comfort that a Nook, Kindle, iPad and/or whatever is coming next will never be able to replace. I find a sense of accomplishment every night when I place the bookmark into the space where I will find it tomorrow. I like being able to flip forward or backward on a whim, or open a reference book to the exact page I’m looking for. Books never run out of batteries, either. I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this feeling either. Millions of books continue to be sold every year.

What will the future bring? Based on what I’ve seen so far, it’s anybody’s guess. But if I get my way, books will still be around when I’m eighty. I’ll probably be reading them through bionic eyes, but I think I’ll be okay with that.

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