A (lack of) future for books?

2008 looks like it might be the year for seriously debating the future of books.

With your degree subjects, you’ll still be used to buying textbooks, using the library for quotes, all sorts of things to do with physical books.

But when was the last time you read a book from cover to cover?  When did you last read a book for pleasure?  Are you a keen devourer of novels?  Has the state of publishing changed now that so much free information is available on the web?

When you take a blog like this one, where the advice offered is (hopefully) helpful and free of charge, there’s less chance that you’d feel as much need to seek out similar information in books.

When you multiply that situation many times – and I’m sure many of you read several academic productivity blogs – there’s even less need to consult the printed tomes available.

Then there’s the web in general, with zillions of words to read.  Magazines and newspapers are also competing for our time.  As are non-physical e-books.  Of course, you’ve got other forms of entertainment that don’t even require much reading.  There’s so much more around us that takes us away from the desire of reading a good book.

This is a real shame.  Books are important.  Both fact and fiction books have their place, but they’re slowly being shut out.

To be fair, even I read fewer books than I used to.  But considering how many books I enjoyed in the past, even reducing that number by half would keep me within the realms of a bookworm!

It’s not to say that new technologies don’t have a place.  And it’s not to say that the concept of ‘books’ shouldn’t be evolving.  We’ve seen the concept of ‘music’ evolving to the point where the market is still in a confused daze.

But for me it all boils down to one thing…you can’t smell the freshness of a new blog post.  But I’m sure you can tell the quality of a book from how good it smells…


  1. I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned this here, but did you know that the average Malaysian reads like, 2 pages a year?

    But I love to read (physical) books. I’m not so much a fan of novels but my favourites are non-fiction books (not productivity books) such as 1421, autobiographies (Hilary Clinton, Martha Stewart, Mahatma Gandhi, etc.). And I also love reading sci-fi such as The State of Fear 😀

    Actually, I do read some fiction books too, and my favourite author has got to be John Grisham 😀

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