I have read Frédéric Beigbeder article about paper books dying and losing the battle to electronic books, and the grim promises that this is very horrible. Beigbeder compares it to Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”, and argues, that lack of paper books will make the world worse.
However, I strongly disagree with him. Gutenbergs invention was created for the same reason electronic books are: faster copying and distribution. It had not sucked the “life” from books compared to ones handwritten on pergament, it had given a new life to them. The books are alive only in the minds of the reader. A much bigger problem is a lack of books that are worth reading, though.
The issues with lack of sufficient attention span on IPAD are real. But there are kindle and other dedicated readers (I wish to purchase a kindle soon, even if there is no free data transfer for Kindle in Lithuania or other Baltic states now). Electronic reading brings books for new generation of people, which want to stay mobile and still want to have a good read.
Personally, I read some books on my Nexus one, some books on my PC. I do not have an urge for paper versions of many of the books. They are unnecessary. The majority of red ones will not be open ever again. But some I will reread, most often more than once. I want to have them close to me. I am not a paper fetishist.
That is one of the reasons I love Kindle store, as I can download the book to various devices (theoretically). I can enjoy reading them and I do not need to think where I will move them when there is no space in my apartment. And I can read them anywhere, at my pace. My attention span is sufficient to read for hours getting bored as long as book is good. One should stop reading crap on any medium, though.
Also, there is a huge misconception that there are “necessary reads”. Is reading “War and Peace” a must for new generation? No. One has to read books that touches one intellectually or emotionally. Skipping some of the classical books is not a sin. Reading against ones will is.
There are groups of people that will suffer from electronic books. These groups include librarians, book printers and some of the sellers. The process is slow, but it is there. It is not a bad thing – some professions got extinct or changed in the past. However, noone wishes to be in the generation of change on the losing side.
There is still space for paper books. Noone tells you to burn them. And if you enjoy reading paper versions more, you should read. Just do not get too attached to medium, rather than content of the book. Forcing people using specific medium is bad, mkey?
And remember – you should pay for good books. I do, even if I could download them from torrents. You should support authors you like. And they will support your brain with good and valuable read.