Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Paperless World?

Last week I read that the number of newspaper readers is diminishing. Newspapers are less profitable. Reporters are being layed off. Daily more people get their news on line. Soon, I suppose, newspapers will be considered financially and environmentally unsustainable. We'll take our morning coffee to our computers, boot up and scroll down.

What implication does this have for books? I sit with my year old granddaughter on my lap, turning the pages of a well-worn board book. "Horsie," I say, pointing to the picture. "Duck." "Cat." She grasps the pages with her little hands, her breath coming in short gasps. She flips the pages backward and forward. I am, I hope, creating aonther reader, one who can pick up a book and carry it almost anywhere, ready in seconds to escape into another world, if only for a few minutes or an hour.

In the future will books be too expensive to publish? Will the world revert to the situation where only the very rich can afford a printed book?


  1. I am aghast at the idea of loosing books and papers, but I'm sitting at my computer with my morning coffee, scrolling down!

    I might have given up the weekday paper, but I'm never going to give up the weekend Times or my books!!

  2. I hope not. I really do. There's something about holding the book in your hands that can't be duplicated.

  3. Personally, I hope The Kindle is only a fad and that once readers realize how much they miss the real thing, paper will ultimately trump electronic readers.

    There was an article by Chris Wallace in Sunday's NY Times that I found heartening. He said he feels he misses a lot when he read newspapers on line: with paper, his peripheral vision catches a lot of cool stories he might never happen upon on line. I completely agree.

    I'm sure there are similar defenses for print books. Let's think of some...and spread the word.

  4. I don't believe we'll ever go totally paperless. It's not easy to curl up on the couch with a good laptop! Books are satisfying in ways electronics can never be.

  5. I don't think books and newspapers will ever go away. We harvest and replant a fast growing pine for the paper, been doing that a long time. We recycle paper, particularly newsprint. And when I travel most everyone I see in airports is carrying or reading a book.

  6. I've given up the weekday paper, too, and only read it online. And I do regret that you lose out reading really interesting stories that you don't catch online. And I do love my Sunday paper...

    In much the same vein, I don't think books will ever go away; I do think that we will all at some point use electronic readers. Not for everything. But if electronic readers truly make reading more convenient under certain circumstances, they will make their way into many, many households.

    Still, I can't see myself cuddled up on my living room couch with a Kindle.

  7. My husband's away for the weekend and I have no children at home - I'm heading to the bookstore for one of those books you can curl up with and spend the weekend immersed in emotions and unconscious of the outside world. It's almost like infidelity.

    Maybe, though, I should write!

  8. I hope it never goes that way for kid's books. The news I can see because it's easier to fix a story right away if it's online (or in some cases, delete it from history altogether!). But for kid's books, it would be really sad to see them no longer published. Really, really sad.