Newfangled Thingamajigs & the Future of Papercuts

I just read an article on CBC about e-book sales outpacing hardcovers. And it made me wonder how this will affect the future of picture books.

Picture books are a wonderful thing, and I don’t just mean kids books. I mean picture books on photography, artists, travel, world records, Waldo (my fave!), culture, world issues, etc. etc. etc.

No matter how hard they try, picture books possess a tactile element that cannot be reproduced in an e-Reader. The feel of the paper, the variety of sizes, the smell of printed ink, the simple act of turning a page, and PAPER CUTS!

Okay, the last one might be a downside but will the day come when we miss the goold old fashioned paper cut? Will we yearn for one when they’re extinct?

The environmental benefits of e-Reading are obvious. Less wasted paper = less tree devastation. Personally, I am all for environmental conservation, especially when it comes to magazines. Magazines are the one thing that I buy that always leaves me feeling a bit guilty. It usually takes me a day to get through a magazine, less if it’s celebrity smut (I NEVER!!), and then into the recycle bin it goes. Fine, the paper waste is dealt with through recycling. But what about the electricity needed to drive the massive presses needed to produce such a piece? The chemical impact of the inks? That sort of thing…

You can see the benefit, right?

e-Readers pros

  1. Environmentally friendly
  2. eBooks are cheaper than printed books
  3. Adjustable type style & size (to suit individual reading preference)
  4. Integrated audio & video (for enhanced experiences)
  5. Wireless internet (some have FREE 3G interenet)

e-Readers cons

  1. Breakable
  2. More expensive (initially)
  3. Screen glow (causes your eyes to tire)
  4. Battery reliance (never had to plug a book in)
  5. Device competition (which one do you buy?)
  6. Lack variety (same screen size & appearance)
  7. Not waterproof (does no one else read in the bath???)

The biggest con for me, however, is that currently the e-Reader market seems to have left kids out of the loop. It’s safe to assume it’s largely due to the fact that a kid e-Reader is going to have to be made to resist all kinds of catastrophes. Likely, it will have to be made of a waterproof version of kevlar with that bullet-proof glass for the screen, and – until that becomes cheap – not every parent will be able to afford this. Right?

Wrong. I have no doubt with the importance that kids play to the publishing industry that all the e-Reader companies have top minds at work to figure out this problem. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if the problem is sorted by Christmas 2010.

So for a little while longer, books can live on in our hands as well as our hearts. But maybe today, as you’re reading your book before bed, give it a little hug, because it is starting to look as though the day will come, in the not-too-distant future, when the only place you’ll be able to find paper publications will be… in museums. And papercuts? Well, I suppose the time will also come when they will be an injury described only in history books.

I’m a little sad now. How about you?

CBC article :: E-book sales outpacing hardcovers: Amazon

E-Books VS Books :: How the E-Reader Measures up to Traditional Print Media

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