Printed Books In Jeopardy Essay, Research Paper
Books and Technology:
Is the Future of Printed Books in Jeopardy?
Technology has impacted our lives in innumerable ways. It is so implemented into our daily lives, that not a thought crosses our minds about how easily we are living. Technology has changed our world significantly. But has the computer made life’s activities too easy for us? Are we becoming a lazy nation, by sitting at home letting the computer think for us? I feel that this is the case in some situations. Although one can see the advantages of ordering certain products online, like clothing or hard-to-get items, must we resort to ordering everyday necessities, like groceries, over the computer? I feel that if a person has to order online items that they can buy in their community, he must be extremely lazy. Computers are great for research, but one must be sure that the information they are uncovering is credible. Computers may make activities like filing or organizing much simpler, yet people are not using their own minds to accomplish certain tasks. Our minds are not going to grow if we depend on a machine to think for us. Yes, there is a plethora of information available to us on the Internet, but is anyone applying it to everyday life? Maybe so, but there is nothing like researching your interests through your own motivation. It is not hard to go to the library and read through books to gather information. The many people who read for leisure probably cannot imagine reading their favorite novel on the computer. One of the joys of reading is that you can be anywhere and still “lose” yourself in a book. You can sit in bed, or on your favorite chair, and thumb through a book. Books are imperative in the process of forming objectives. Books may not exist in the future because of technology. Technology has brought forth many inventions like audiobooks and the newly introduced electronic books to simplify the process of reading. Is this really necessary? And even if it is, will printed books one day be extinct?
Books have entertained people for a very long time. Oral tradition led to writing, and then movies and television came along. The computer is taking over all aspects of entertainment. Writer Connie Lauerman shares that:
Ruth Perry, a professor of literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes people are ‘too quick to jettison the old.’ She says that a young graduate student at another university recently called herself ‘part of the last generation to learn from reading books. She said that other people after her learned from reading on computers.’ (Lauerman 1)
How can one enjoy reading a great novel on a computer? It seems there is something not quite right with that process. Perry states, “The experience of reading where you go back to look at another page, or compare passages, that cannot be done on a screen .I think there some important way in which the sensory experience of reading a hand-held book feeds into thinking about it.” (Lauerman). I feel that nothing can replace the experience of reading a book of a respective interest. You can find information on the Internet, but this process is almost too easy in the sense that you can read only specific areas of a subject without exploring all areas of that particular subject. It is hard to have an objective mindset if that is the way you research.
Although millions of people surf the Internet and gain information, they are not really processing it in their minds. An author states, “Inhabitants of digital culture watch text and graphics scrolling down and streaming across computer monitors. But they don’t always call it reading. On PC’s [personal computers], people search, surf, browse, log on, but seldom admit to reading” (Fortune 1). You can download any newspaper on the Web, but do you want to read your daily newspaper on your computer when you wake up in the morning? I would not think so. Some companies have thought about this and now they bring readers the electronic book, ” digital files of novels, magazines, and newspapers that can be downloaded into handheld gadgets for portable, paper-free reading” (Terell). Here we go-you can still curl up in bed and read your favorite book. The device is “about the size and weight of a nice hardcover .the screen is easy on your eyes and you can mark your pages” (Fortune 2). Are avid readers going to start buying into this new invention? The companies certainly hope so. The companies want to attract people who will pay for what they read on the Internet. Each E-book will be able to download numerous books and newspapers.
These companies expect consumers to fall in love with this new-fangled device. But they still have a few issues to address, such as “high prices, limited reading selection, and uncertainty about which device will become the standard” (Terrell). Prices range from $300-$600 (Landers). Some of these books will be cheaper because they will not be accompanied with a modem. Other problems include occasional glare on the screen and short battery life. Even with these shortcomings, companies are confident that their product will sell. I still cannot imagine reading a book without literally turning the pages. It is going to be hard for these companies to convince consumers that they really need this product.
But maybe it will catch on. Does this mean that printed books will cease to exist? Many scholars worry about the effect of the onslaught of technology on the book. Paul Mosher, a library director at the University of Pennsylvania, states, “The messianic leaders of the information -technology takeover are the same ones who told us the book was dead” (Belsie 2). Mosher also makes the point that retail sales of printed books in the United States reached $23 billion last year (Belsie 2). But others still worry. Not only do the e-books pose a threat, but the multitudes of audiobooks and CD-ROM versions of books also assist in the decline of the book. Although audiobooks provide listeners with the added dimension of sound, writer Donna Seaman claims that “Listeners do miss out on the dreaminess that reading induces, and the subtle patterns you discover as your eye drifts back across a page or two” (Seaman 2). She also mentions that when you read a book, you can control the pace, whereas listening to a tape, you cannot control the speed.
CD-ROM versions of books provide graphics and audio to enhance the joy of reading, but offer far less substantive text. Seamen states, “To read for pleasure is to transcend the physical as well as the body seeks the ideal balance between comfort and mental acuity” (Seamen 2). Many people sit in front of a computer all day long at their job. These people probably would not enjoy coming home and proceeding to read a novel on the computer. There really cannot be any enjoyment in the process of clicking on icons when ready to turn the page. CD-ROM’s are handy for research and other information, but as a tool for leisurely reading, they do not compare to a printed book.
The computer revolution is definitely changing the future of printed books. The printed book is endangered; I think that books will cease to exist in the far future. Libraries may become computer research centers or, if everyone owns their own computer by then, libraries will cease to exist. Hopefully, this will become a major issue in the future and will instigate some form of protest. Computers are very useful but do not provide much room for imagination. I think it is great that technology has produced innovations such as audiobooks, CD-ROM’s, and electronic books. But as an avid reader and lover of printed books, I would like to state that technology should not step into the wondrous realm of reading. Books are the basis for many objectives, and we should not allow future generations to forget that.
Belsie, Laurent. “A Michener-Sized Problem: Books Crumbling into Dust. Scholars
Join Hands to Save Millions of Brittle Tomes.” The Christian Science Monitor. 4
January 1995: 3.
Landers, Jim. “Cutting the Literary Paper Trail: Firms Hope to Stir Reader’s Interest in
Handheld Electric Devices.” The Chicago Tribune. 2 November 1998: 8.
Lauerman, Connie. “To Be Continued? Computers are Being Blamed for Many Things,
Including the Imminent Extinction of Reading as We Know it ” The Chicago Tribune. 9 April 1996: 1.
“Movable Type: Electronic Books and Online Libraries, For Free or For a Fee, are
Changing the Face of Reading.” Fortune. 16 November 1998: 270 +
Seaman, Donna. “Literature for the Tech Age: The World of Books on Cassette and CD
ROM.” The Chicago Tribune. 2 February 1997: 1.
Terrell, Kenneth. “E-Books Struggle to Replace Type on Paper.” U.S. News and World
Report. 31 January 2000: 58-59.