Last page for paperback!


The advent of e-book reader has also brought with it, the imminent possibility of an exit of the traditional printed books. I am not going to list the pros and cons of e-books vis-a-vis hardcovers. (battery, portability, data vulnerability, and all that!!)

We all know that e-books are very much in their nascent stage at the moment. And, it might take them a while, may be a decade or so,  to conquer the paperback market. In Florida US, the state education board wants to get all digitized by 2015 and get rid of textbooks. Last year, Amazon sold 115 ebooks for every 100 paperbacks; they sold 3 times as many ebooks as they did hardbacks. A threat to paperbacks is very much evident. Are traditional paperback books really on their way out?

Can’t really bet on that! Because many a times new technology becomes the source of revival of old forms. A perfect example with reference to this may be, the arrival of still cameras.  It was after the invention of the still camera in the 1880s that some of the most famous paintings and works of art in history had been created.

On a lighter note, it is like watching Part 2 of any interesting movie. To appreciate the sequel you need to see the original movie first. And that’s why some doubt that paperback versions will ever be replaced by any form of technology!!

Quite often there is tendency of giving way too much credit to technology and showing too much dependence on technology; which may not be the reality always and in all the cases.

For instance, Malcolm Gladwell’s recent comments on uprising in the Egypt and the way he downplayed social media’s role came under heavy criticism by some.

Right now there are protests in Egypt that look like they might bring down the government. There are a thousand important things that can be said about their origins and implications. But surely the least interesting fact about them is that some of the protesters may (or may not) have at one point or another employed some of the tools of the new media to communicate with one another. Please. People protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented. They did it before the Internet came along. Barely anyone in East Germany in the nineteen-eighties had a phone—and they ended up with hundreds of thousands of people in central Leipzig and brought down a regime that we all thought would last another hundred years—and in the French Revolution the crowd in the streets spoke to one another with that strange, today largely unknown instrument known as the human voice. People with a grievance will always find ways to communicate with each other. How they choose to do it is less interesting, in the end, than why they were driven to do it in the first place.

The New Yorker writer (and one of my favorite authors) believes that social media might be one of the tools for the current uprising but let us not miss the broader picture and concentrate on the problem at hand.

I choose to agree with Mr. Gladwell here. Howsoever, adept and powerful may technology become. It is true that revolutions had indeed happened before the advent of the internet. What we witnessed in Egypt, simply goes on to prove that large masses of crowd can still gather without an SMS or internet, as reported. After all, let us not forget that technology is just an enabler whose creator is the humankind. And, technology is not invincible!

As far as the longevity of paperback is concerned,  just because there is an alternative to printed books now, does not mean that technology might erase traditional books. Rather, co-existence of both would be a healthier option. Wait and watch..

Original article “Last Page for paperback”: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/the-last-page-for-the-paperback-2197823.html

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5 thoughts on “Last page for paperback!

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  3. Printed books will never really die, they’ll just become novelties.

    Book Killers: Price, Logistics, Space, Convenience, Web 3.0 capabilities, Segmentation, Improved technology (tablets, readers, etc.)

    Good Hunting.

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