It seems nearly everyone has an opinion about the state of books and whether or not the book is dead. It also seemsthat very few people agree on what that state is. As some insist that the book is going the way of the dodo, others consider the book is as vibrant, lively and worthy of attention as it ever was. This debate is often carried over into libraries as libraries are, by some, thought of as book storehouses and if the book is dying than libraries must be as well. But as modern libraries are demonstrating that their true focus is community and that we’ll go wherever the community takes us, be it into books, movies, computers, project creation and more, the book is also demonstrating its adaptation to the world at large.
Readers are still out there. Seth Meyers, taking up the torch from Jon Stewart, is showing book love with his Late Show Literary Salons that highlight, not always the latest book on the press junket, but some of his personal favorites or books that he’s really passionate about. Book Riot, one of my favorite bookish-blogs written by readers and writers alike, is constantly discussing books of all types and in different forms: as reading material, as status symbols, as art, as social commentary and more. Quirk Books is another of my favorites that trends towards nostalgia, but also features some great articles on fascinating reads. Much like this blog strives to do, these and other fantastic blogs are written by readers who love to talk about the ways books have impacted their lives, reading habits or just gush about something they feel very strongly about.
Once can’t talk about the supposed death of the book without talking about the death of the physical book. The e-book (or digital book or Kindle book, etc.) is often decried as he modern death knell for the traditional form of printed book. Many seemed to panic when PriceWaterhouse Coopers declared that e-books will overtake print books by 2018. Scientific American considered the idea that reading in a digital age might be altering the way we read a text and possibly be a less enriching experience because text is presented differently on-screen than on-page. Could the paper book really be on its way out, our reading habits forever altered and disrupted? Probably not. The BBC published an article last week that had some interesting statistics. Granted these statistics are taken from the British point of view, but I found it to be an interesting read, nonetheless. It seems that digital book sales have stabilized and print books are even making a bit of a comeback.
I’m not going to go into a long diatribe about one version or the other. I like both print and digital books; each have their own sway over me for different reasons and I’m often happy to read in whatever format is more comfortable or convenient to the setting. If the text is all there, I’m pretty much a happy camper. Honestly, I don’t see print versus digital as an either/or issue. Reading a book on a computer or tablet doesn’t make the person consuming the text any less of a reader. Reading a hard copy doesn’t necessarily present the best option for some readers (I can think of many suitcases that have been significantly lightened with the option of digital reading) or, despite what Scientific American says, make someone a better reader.
Here at the library, we like to present our patrons with options and information, rather than pushing opinions or a one-sided idea on them. That’s why we have a fairly extensive and ever-growing collection of e-books, while we still purchase hard copies of books for our collections. As we have with superheroes, book preferences and women authors, we encourage you to take part in the conversation and decide where your own opinions lie. We’ll still be here whatever you decide.
To entice you further, here are some books that we have in both print and digital copies. Why choose? Feel free to read in both formats!
I’ve recommended in the past beginning the Neil Gaiman canon with Neverwhere, but this book is also a worthy introduction to his magical works. Gaiman’s prose is gorgeous and this book has a hint of an Alice in Wonderland flair to it. If you enjoy being taken into a world that’s like our own, but in which things are not quite what they seem, time with this book will be time well spent.
While the movie may have taken on much of the publicity, this book is well worth reading, whether or not you know someone who has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The heart-wrenching chronicle of the failing mind of a woman who was an exceptional intellectual is almost as sure to inspire curiosity and compassion as it is tears.
This is a recent pick by one of the South Branch’s reading groups. It had a decidedly mixed reaction but the premise is entrancing. A girl and a chimpanzee are raised together as siblings as a sort of social experiment. This book describes how such an unusual upbringing affected everyone in the family.
If you’re dying to read what everyone is talking about, or if you’d just like to figure out what precisely was going on in the PBS miniseries with minimal dialog, now is your chance to pick up the Man Booker Prize-winning novel.
Not the riotous romp of his travel memoirs, but still entertaining and engaging. A great deal happened in the U.S. in the summer of 1927, and Bryson chronicles much of it with insights into how it affected the country later on. Expect more of his dry wit intermingled with the insights.
Till next week, dear readers, remember that reading, and books, are in the eye of the beholder. Books, be they print, digital, hybrid or some new format we haven’t yet conceived of, can’t die as long as there are people to enjoy them. And to that I say: Long live the reader!