Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I read a post on another blog to the effect that books were gradually becoming digital products and soon would be entirely in that format with the exception of a few very particular items, like special editions or some children's picture books.   In a comparison with music, the delivery method of physical copies of novels seems to have changed little over the past century.   No doubt, those familiar with the intricacies of actually bringing a book to a physical form via a printing press could point out many differences.   But to the public that consumes the book, the differences appear to be of style and font and paper quality.   A book is still a book.

But consider music; now there have been changes in format.  Music, after all, within recollection of many was once vinyl, then briefly 8-track, next cassette, then compact discs.  Change was the norm.   Of course, it was annoying, not to mention expensive, to have to upgrade every few years.  Similarly for home movies.  How many people were left with an extensive collection of videos and nothing to play them on after their VCR broke down?


But digital is something completely different.   Nothing to hold, nothing physical to lend around to your circle of friends and relatives, nothing to fill your bookshelf and make you look erudite.     Is smaller and more compact better?   Minimalists would say yes.  No heavy boxes to lift on moving day, no spare rooms devoted to long forgotten media.  But is out of sight, out of mind?   Dozens of books, residing on your Kindle or other device can lie dormant for a very long time.  They are easily purged, unread, in a frenzy of digital housekeeping.   What about the charities, like the Rotary Club and hospital auxiliaries which rely on annual booksales to supplement their fundraising?

The deciding factor in the end may be the reality that digital products tend to be cheaper.  How cheap?  That's a post for another day.

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