Books Are Fine

In the days preceding its arrival, the skins of technology writers and media forecasters prickled with excitement, just from speculating about the power of the iPad to salvage publishing from its current state of commercial stagnation.

At a more philosophical level, others pondered if it’d upend printed books altogether. As it turns out, claims about their demise were exaggerated.

Bookstores and publishers may be hurting, but the book itself, is in no immediate danger.

For one, its physical incarnation will not disappear any time soon. People have grown up reading paper books and will not kick the habit easily.

Yet, in the long run, if books go digital, there are some major pitfalls to avoid. One is privacy. With a printed book, it’s hard to know who is reading what, something which is easy with e-readers, most of which will always be connected wirelessly.

Digital books can also be deleted remotely, as Amazon aptly demonstrated by erasing Orwell’s “1984” from Kindles. Worse, just as in “1984,” books and, therefore, truth can be altered or updated. And what would happen to our collective knowledge if by some unimaginable accident all those digital book files were erased?


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