Sad Luddite

Came across this provocative stat the other day: Ninety per cent of books bought now are bought in digital form.

Ninety per cent!

The stat was quoted by a publisher. A publisher that publishes only e-books.


My first thought: That statistic does not correspond with the reality I perceive, of book buying friends, and line ups of book toting customers at the book store, and people staggering from the library with books falling from their arms.

But then N. reminded me: It’s the kids and the young adults, i.e. the book buyers of the future, who slant the stat towards e-books.

So – are we heading for a future of digital books only, the shelves at the book stores and the libraries doomed to emptiness (maybe book stores and libraries themselves doomed to extinction)?

Nothing against e-books. I see their advantages … the world-wide distribution within seconds of ‘publication’ (breathtaking, isn’t it?), and the saving of trees, and the instant reception of a book you want to own (no trip to the book store, no waiting for Amazon to deliver, no going on a waiting list at the library), their easy portability (you can travel with a whole library), no danger from having a book crash into your face when falling asleep while reading in bed.

Still – just hate to see ‘real’ books – with their feel and their smell and their ease of riffling through and finding well-loved passages and being able to look back and ahead to check on something you may have missed (yes, I know you can do that with an e-book, but it really doesn’t seem so easy) – just hate to see them disappear completely.

You detect a note of Ludditism? Dead right.

Am I alone, pathetically shouting into a real-book-less future, “Hang on. I don’t think this is such a good idea”?




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