Hi, everyone. This is Jacek!
This might not be a very recent question, but I am pretty sure at least some of you at some point found yourselves wondering what the future will be like when it comes to the forms in which intellectual material is stored and published.
When we hear the terms from the title used together, we naturally think of things such as movies, books, music, video games, and so on.
Will the answer to the question be the same in each case?
While we probably can’t precisely predict yet how things will end for all of those listed categories, we can already observe certain trends.
By saying that, I am referring to movies, music, and video games. It may depend on the country, but I think globally we can observe a pretty obvious transition towards digital content (in this case ‘online content’), especially in movies and music, which have been available in form of streaming services for several years if not decades.
As a result of that spreading convenience, less and less people decide to purchase physical copies of movies, TV shows, music albums, or video games.
Will those eventually completely disappear or survive as a niche market?
If I had to guess, I would point at the latter one, since we can already see that happening with vinyl records, and those have been around for over a century.
Then what about books? Well, the situation is a a bit different here, both from the technical and practical point.
When we think of storing information in a physical form, the book is a very precise example of that, possibly along with the mentioned vinyl record, but not quite the same.
What those two have in common? One thing is a very long potential lifespan, which according to various sources could be easily several centuries or even millennia.
Still, the traditional book is in its own category when it comes to how we ‘consume’ it.
While we certainly need some sort of device to be able to enjoy a movie, song, or game, we don’t need one for a printed book.
The book itself is all we need, and isn’t it amazing how much knowledge, entertainment, and all sorts of emotions a written word can provide and stimulate in us?
But the question is if it’s the written word alone we can see in front of our eyes that brings all that.
If so, an e-book is a perfect solution then. We can bring it anywhere, well, many of those, even thousands, all stored on one small electronic device with a high quality display, which by the way can be used in any conditions, these days even in a steamy bathroom, or completely dark bedroom without additional light.
Yet, there is something in traditional books that make people stick to them.
And we know what it is, though it may be something different for each of us; the sensation of holding a physical book with its solid weight, the texture of the paper, the ink and paper smells blended together (this one I can’t resist ;)), and so on.
Which type are you? Do you prefer e-books for their convenience, traditional book for those extra sensations, or maybe you are somewhere in between?
As for me, I try to read the physical copies of books as often as possible, and especially those more significant positions dear to me, which I would eventually love to keep on a shelf.
Otherwise, I still enjoy the electronic copies, which I mostly store and read on my smartphone with a relatively large display.
I can’t deny how convenient it can be.
Oh, and to answer that initial question, I personally don’t think traditional paper books will be leaving us anytime soon.