Digital Reading


The Revolution That’s Changing How the World Gets its Literature
The dawn of the e-book era was heralded by the arrival of the original Amazon Kindle several years ago. The device solved a number of key problems that avid readers had long endured. First and foremost, it turned hundreds of books into a very thin device that could be stored on a coffee table, rather than on one or more bookshelves. Secondly, it offered a digital screen that appeared to be just like the paper found in a traditional book. Eyestrain was made a thing of the past.

In the years that have followed, the e-book has taken off in a really big way. Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore has seen competition from Barnes & Noble, Apple’s iBookstore, Google Books, and scores of others. Meanwhile, major bookstore chains have fallen on hard times. International book retailer Borders, for instance, had to restructure its operations several years ago and, just last year, the company filed for bankruptcy and ceased to exist. Where does that leave the traditional book?

A Tough Future, But Not an Impossible One
It’s hard to imagine a world where the paper book ever regains its status as the best way to read in all situations, but it still remains a potent vehicle for knowledge in several locations. First and perhaps most importantly, there are still areas and venues where an electronic device is not permitted or practical. Many airlines have tough laws regarding tablets, e-readers, and even phones. And beaches, where sand could easily get into a device and ruin its internal hardware, present a perfect place to use a traditional book instead.

The future of the book is decidedly digital, but that doesn’t spell the end for paperback alternatives. On vacation, on a flight, or in any location where the sun might prohibit electronic reading, e-books will be supplanted by their paperback counterparts for decades to come.