Monday, November 7, 2011

Do We Even Need Printed Books Anymore? by Lindsey Wright

Technology has made it possible to do just about anything digitally; from getting a degree through online classes to video chatting with people from opposite ends of the globe. Although the vast development of technology has been very beneficial, it has also made us depend on technology excessively. For example, our main source of information and entertainment comes from the Internet. People don't even read printed books or newspapers much anymore and often prefer to go online and read their favorite magazine and newspaper articles. This leads us to wonder whether there is even a need for printed material anymore. Basically, why stick to old technology like printed books when we can access them through the new technology of digital text?

In order to determine if printed books are indeed obsolete, we must thoroughly examine the pros and cons of each medium. One of the greatest benefits of eBooks is that they can be downloaded quickly from anywhere you have a computer screen. As such, eReaders are so popular because they are extremely convenient for travelers. Also, if you have a tiny apartment, storing your eBooks on a Kindle is very accommodating. Another perk is that eBooks cost less than the average printed book and are lighter to carry around.

However, if you work on a computer all day, looking at another screen isn’t going to be as relaxing and enjoyable as reading in print. Besides being potentially tiring to the eyes, there are a few other negative aspects of going digital. For instance, every book is not available online, and not all eReaders carry all publishers’ books. On the other hand, with a bit of research, you can almost always find the book you desire. Books can also be sold, traded, recycled and reprinted. They are easy to borrow or loan out. Best of all, print books are affordable to give as gifts and are great collectors’ items when bound in leather and beautifully embossed. Printed books are truly works of art, while eBooks are not.

When considering printed versus digital materials, it is important to note that Rita Toews, who is the founder of “Read an eBook Week” feels that there is no comparison whatsoever between the two types of reading material. She believes that eBooks are perfect for writing about things that change or advance regularly, while books are permanent records. Think about the damage that technology has done to the English language. Social networking through websites, texting and instant messaging is making solid English replaced by abbreviated slang. Punctuation has gone out the window. Think about what this could mean to future generations. What if the unthinkable happens? For example what if something cataclysmic, like a nuclear war, or a natural disaster that destroyed our electrical power. Would our children or grandchildren be able to communicate without computers? Would reading end because the printed word no longer existed?

Clearly it is a mistake to quickly throw out the old to make room for the new. If we ever do have another ice age that destroys life as we know it today, old books have a far better chance of being found and translated by new races than CDs, DVDs and eBooks. All in all, it is crucial to maintain printed materials. They will always have a place among mankind to not only entertain, but document humanity.

1 comment:

Jim Murdoch said...

When you consider that nearly 4 billion trees worldwide are cut down each year for paper it's a no-brainer. As much as I love books I realise that we have to be sensible and use our resources wisely.

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