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6/14/2006 

Long live the book

The always provocative Jeff Jarvis declares that books is dead in his blog:
(book) they limit how knowledge can be found because they have to sit on a shelf under one address; there is only way way to get to it. They are expensive to produce. They depend on scarce shelf space. They depend on blockbuster economics. They can't afford to serve the real mass of niches. They are subject to gatekeepers' whims. They aren't searchable. They aren't linkable. They have no metadata. They carry no conversation. They are thrown out when there's no space for them anymore. Print is where words go to die.
But of course books are not dead, for most people, in most of their times. Here are my senses:
1) books are convenient. They are cheap, portable, easy to read (comparing with monitor). You can do anything with them, you have total control over them.
2) books are secure. Books are authentic. Books can't infected by virus, spammer, etc. They can't be modified, deleted, copied without physical trace.
3) books are part of our culture. Human have been reading books for a long time. People love the physics and psychology of holding book and read. It is easy to change technology, but it is hard to change humans habits.
Electronic media (blogs, etc.) and print books are simply two different media forms for our knowledge and thoughts. Staff in the electronic media are raw, rich, volatile, somewhat un-organized; staff in print books are more consistent, coherent, being a crystalline form of our thought. Both have pros and cons, and in my opinion, they will co-exist for a long, long time.

Thats an awesome insignt into a book. liked it

Will publishers pick up your blook if it already appeared on your blog?

I just look at the general history of the media and I wonder why there still are some people to make that sort of statement about the death of one medium...

What a sad comment, books will never die.
I for one would never buy a book to read on a PC format. There is nothing like snuggling under the covers with a good book on a cold night!
Lynda

"They are thrown out when there's no space for them anymore. Print is where words go to die."

I disagree with both of these remarks!

Yes, I ran out of space to store the books I've been accumulating for about 45 years. That is one of the reasons I rented a storage locker and why we can barely get the family car into the garage. (Boxes of books lining the walls.)

Books are very durable. I've books that I bought in the early 1960s; I've bought books published before my great-grandparents even met (the 1880s...).

I bought books-on-disks in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Some have "disappeared" and some are on floppies that simply don't load anymore. I've got some text formatted for an obscure text Commodore 64 text editor; I got this in 1984. This text is completely lost to me as I don't have the proper word processor anymore...)

Late at night, after I get home from second shift, I don't want to read off a computer monitor any more. I'd rather sit in the "good" kitchen chair, read a book and maybe drink a beer. If I'm waiting for something, I can pull a paperback out an read; it would be ackward to try reading a "laptop" screen then...

Books will endure much longer than the current crop of "modern" computers. If the past 40 years have taught us anything about technology, it should be that today's "magic machines" will be considered crap tomorrow and land fill the day after...

Books last!

P.S.: You had some very nice insights into books and why people love them!

I too have been a book lover for at least 45 years. I have them in hard back, in paper back, in boxes, on shelves and certainly at my bed side. They also reside on my coffee table, the end tables and any other flat surface. I must admit, though, that the blog has caught my interest and attention. As a mom, grandmom and greatgrandmom I find blogs an excellent place for the family to keep in touch, to express opinions and to get the latest family news. I cannot believe that this one form of communcation will ever replace the book, at least I hope this is not the case. I know in the work place we are supposed to be paperless soon. I am a nurse and I do not see how this can happen in our suit happy society, so I am voting for paper and enjoying electronic communication.

One reads a book from the beginning.

One reads a blog from the end. And then goes back through the archives trying to work forwards in the chronological sequence of the author's mind.

Or one reads a blog one post at a time, when one receives the alert!

I'm not against technology (at least not most of it), but there is something solid, comforting about a book. It's pretty hard to drag a piece of technology into a nice, relaxing soak! I love the written word and I don't think that I could ever abandon the good, "old-fashioned" book!

"Books are convenient"

Yessiree, on the bus, train, airplane, you can encounter turbulence, high speeds, rocking motions (etc) and the book is still there. And it's perfectly okay if you drop a book by accident onto a granite floor.

I enjoyed your post on the non-death of the book. I feel like the weight and tactile feel of the book are contributing factors as well, though. Plus, there's always the new (or old!) book smell, which I love.

An excellent post.

People have been predicting the end of the book for decades and thanks several years ago now to the end of the net book agreement, they seem to be going from strength to strength. I think the problem is that people confuse new media, which do different things, with substitutes for the media that are already out there. I'm fascinated by what blogs can do and how different they are, but it doesn't stop me buying lots of books - it's my one vice!

I agree completely. The philosophies you offer here are ones that have been passed down through my own family, probably originating with my grandmother the English professor. Nothing like the tangibilty of a thick hard cover.

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