E-books will never completely replace print books. Here’s why.
A while ago in one of my classes, I came across the idea that dictionaries were never meant for print—they’re meant to be explored through a search engine in a digital world. Similarly, the digital world as it exists today doesn’t condone deep reading. Though print books have been digitized, distractions are just too conveniently located to facilitate a deep reading experience.
Convenience. That’s what drives the modern world. Almost everything is just a few clicks away when you’ve got your device with you, and all that traffic almost hums in the background while you try to focus on the words.
If you want a good deep reading experience, I say your book has to be in the same world as you. It makes a difference to be able to manipulate the pages, not through a mouse or touchscreen, but by your own hands. To be able to smudge the ink, turn the pages, smell its unique book smell. To be able to shut the laptop and move away from the humming traffic, and find a quiet corner of the world with little distraction.
Perhaps an app will show up in which you can select to lock down your computer while you’re seriously trying to read. I think that’d just annoy people or go unused, but it’s a thought. Even so, e-books are a different thing—they’re perfect, sterile, untouchable except through the interface. That’s a good thing if you’re trying to avoid the plague, but in the meantime, I’m keeping my bookshelf full.
Of course, this opinion isn’t really mine. The war between tradition and innovation is as old as humanity.