A World Without Books

Choosing an ebook vs hardcover book

There are certain things that get under my skin. The ceiling fans that click. Wedding countdowns on Facebook. Nutrition.

Oh, what about this one… Being forced to choose between an electronic or hardcover version of a book.

Film and television studios have been providing a complimentary “digital copy” with many DVD or BluRay purchases. Publishers, however, have been much slower to get on board… and it is getting underneath my skin.

I want the convenience of an ebook but I can’t shake the notion of what if an EMP wipes out all my ebooks? It’s an extreme scenario caused, in large part, by a completely healthy addiction to Jack Bauer, but clearly highlights the reality that ebooks are not physical. I must rely on a device to deliver each title. What happens to my ebooks when technology changes? Could I find myself in a world without books?

The Rise of the E-Book

Each generation of literature features unique stories and discoveries. With an exponential increase of ebook sales (10 million sold in 2008, 457 million sold in 2012) there is an important question looming: How will we pass down “the classics” when our titles are tied to our Amazon ID?

Five years ago it would be difficult to visualize a world without physical books. Of course, five years ago the iPad had not arrived. The shift in sales between 2008 and 2012 represents an increase of 4456%. I can’t help but begin to wonder, “will there come a day when a physical book is as rare as an ebook once was?”

To Digitize or Not to Digitize

Books transcend the time periods in which they were created largely because much interpretation is left to the reader. They provide insight into the past while building a springboard for the future. It is a scary thought that we could one day live in a world with no access to some of history’s greatest works, and by consequence, the minds that composed them.

Despite the extreme EMP scenario, it provides me with a valuable filter. If all electronics disappeared, what books should survive? What titles would be essential to carrying on agriculture, faith, thought and mathematics? Pages which are home to words of faith, liberty and thought provocation should always find their way to a real physical bookshelf.

When the iPad Cracks

Debate is minimal over whether digital is easier. For nearly every digital product, there isn’t even a second thought of “what will happen to my purchases in the future?” When it comes to books, regardless of how annoying it is to choose a hardcover over an ebook, there is one major comfort. Even if I drop and crack my beautiful iPad screen, I’m still able to sit down and read C.S. Lewis.

Do you have any reservations when purchasing ebooks? Why would you choose an ebook over hardcover or vice versa?

*PERSONAL DISCLAIMER: When I say digital copy, I am NOT including UltraViolet. UV is a scam and should be exiled to the land of VHS and 8 Tracks. I’m talking iTunes Digital Copy.

5 replies
  1. shaunrmiller
    shaunrmiller says:

    I totally agree with you on this one. I love everything about my kindle except that I don’t have the real book. Being able to highlight, search, and never forget where I was are the benefits of technology. But the vanity in me loves to have book shelves full of books. The smell, the feel, and pride in owning the physical copy can never be replaced by an ebook. Plus I had an opportunity to meet two of my favorite authors at an event last week. I had to go buy new copies of their books because I wanted them signed. Can’t sign an ebook. haha.

    • Dave Shrein
      Dave Shrein says:

      Shaun, I think it’s funny that you said “the vanity in me loves to have books on the shelves.” Full admission… I feel good whenever I put a nice new book on my shelf even though I haven’t read it… is there something wrong with us??

      Thanks for the comment man, I really appreciate your voice.

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