Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Are Books on Their Way Out?

I remember reading a story as a child - it was about a boy and girl who lived in the future. They did their schoolwork at home, but their mom didn't teach them; instead they had an electronic "teacher", a machine that taught their lesson, gave them homework, etc. I remember that in the story, the kids found a real book, something neither of them had ever seen, since they weren't made anymore; they read using the screen of their "teacher". They discovered that the book had belonged to one of their grandfathers. That's all I really remember from the story, but I remember thinking at the time that that probably wouldn't ever really happen - I couldn't imagine not having real books. I still can't imagine not having real books to read, but I do now think that will someday happen. I was watching the news yesterday for a little bit and saw the newest release from Amazon - the Kindle, an electronic reading device. It is about the size of a book, and its screen will show one "page" at a time. It can hold up to 200 books, which can be bought and downloaded instantly thanks to its wireless capabilities. It was hailed as perfect for travelers, who of course can only take so many books with them at one time. Having seen this, I can easily imagine this sort of thing taking the place of paper books in the not-so-distant future. After all, it would save so much money and so many trees. While I can agree that this could be a wonderful thing for someone who travels a lot, I can't imagine curling up on the couch in front of a fire, with a cup of hot cocoa and what is basically a little computer. No, I enjoy the feel of books, turning the pages, and the faded print of older books. While I am now sure that someday paper books will lose their place in most homes, I really hope that doesn't happen for a very long time.

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