Are Books Still Needed in a Digital Age?

Books are the perfect way to ensure that you never get bored. They offer you the chance to immerse yourself in another world, or another life, or even simply get lost in facts and historical accounts, giving a depth of information that can be missing from any other art form, and a chance for personal interpretation that truly allows one to make every story their own.

However, whilst carrying around books is the perfect entertainment for many people, in this digital age, do we actually still need books when they are so easy to download onto technological devices?

Whilst it is increasingly convenient to get books on tablets or Kindles, more often than not e-books are generally priced at similar or higher prices than their printed equivalents. In contrast, used books are generally much cheaper with discounts of 70-80% off the RRP common for titles which have been read just once or twice.

Undoubtedly, carrying hundreds of books on a single device is convenient when it comes to taking books on holiday, or reading books on buses/trains. However, the cost of buying an e-reader in the first instance has to be factored into the decision and means only heavy book buyers are likely to see quick return of convenience on their investment. In addition, the major problem facing e-readers at present is the distinct lack of range of titles available in e-book form. Whilst popular new titles are usually released digitally, back list titles and less well known authors are still only published physically. The range of physical books is therefore much greater than that of digital books at this stage.

Perhaps the greatest selling point of a physical book is and always will be its aesthetic appeal. The art of designing a good book cover, something that will pique the interest of a casual passer-by, is something that is unlikely to be captured digitally in the way it is with a physical book. There remains something to be said for the display of a bookshelf and the way in which people can give insights into their personality and the forces which have shaped them through their personal collection of books. Be it an outlandish work of fiction or a stretching philosophical treatise, holding ones literary collection digitally in an e-reader does not fire the imagination like a row of books that can be picked up and tossed around the room with friends and loved ones. It may well be that these alternative views of how books can or should be consumed mean that both digital and physical are here to stay, each satisfying their audiences in different, equally valid, ways.

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