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Books are DEAD

HAHAHAHA! I’ve been reading the NGC4Lib list and once again someone has declared the Death of Books (also of CDs, vinyl*, and anything else that is ‘stagnant’). 

To paraphrase Twain, reports of the death of books is greatly exaggerated. Books have been declared dead before. Anyone recall how microform was going TAKE OVER THE WORLD! We no longer need printed books, we have microform! Why, everyone will have their very own reader at home.  In fact, some universities developed their collections along these lines – collecting massive amounts of materials on microform only (I’m talking to you University of  Texas at Dallas) and had to struggle to catch up when microform did not actually take over the world.

Are printed books becoming less used in non-fiction and reference materials? Absolutely! Are they also beginning to cross over into the fiction world as e-Books? Sure enough! Are printed books obsolete? No. Is it possible in the distant future to have only e-Books? Sure. Is it going to happen in the next 5 to 10 years? I don’t think so.

Yes, the paradigm (ooh, look at the buzz word!) is shifting. Yes, more and more things are going online. Yes, there are e-Book-like things that are constantly updated with new information (MD Consult has had this for quite a while). It is lovely to have the instant access to the updated information (when the computers and networks are all playing nicely AND you have a subscription). [another topic to explore, the concept of renting information and owning information] 

But shifts have been happening for some time. Let’s look at the phenomena of print journals to e-Journals.  I recall predictions that print journals will no longer be published (Magazine are DEAD!) but they are still printed. Sure, some journals have transitioned to online only. Some are still walking the line of print and electronic. Some are “added value” electronic and regular ol’stagnant print. How many years has it been? CD-ROM databases were around nearly 20 years ago (eons in compuspeak). So. Journals are dead too, huh? Only e-Journals from now on! Uh huh.

Will print go away entirely? I doubt it, at least I doubt it will happen quite as fast and as finally as some on the NGC4Lib list are stating.  Just look at store catalogs and advertisements – they’ve been online for some time now but I still get postal mailings (a wee bit too much if you ask me). Until the majority of people out there have constant and reliable access to all things electronic and webbie, it just can’t happen. Where there is a market, there is a way.

I assume the argument is being used to emphasize the big ‘shift’ occurring. I mean, I guess the idea is to shock us into jumping up and down on the bandwagon and changing NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!! ALL WILL BE LOST! GONE FOREVER!! LOST I TELL YOU!! LOST! Er…sorry, hyperbole got the better of me, and of them.

*as to “vinyl” being dead, seems to me there are several bands (from Springstein to Erykah Badu to Lady Gaga),  releasing materials on vinyl and more people are collecting vinyl … at least, the purchase of vinyl is up and more stores (actual stores where you walk in and pick things up with your own hands) are carrying vinyl. Dead indeed.

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  1. Ana Krahmer
    April 8, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I can’t even begin to tell you how many English and History professor friends I have who have this anxiety that all books are going to be gone. I generally enjoy throwing them off balance by bemoaning the fate of papyrus scrolls.

  2. April 14, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    hehehe, crazy talk. Silly, silly people.

  1. January 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm

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