Is there a book dilemma going on via a never ending conversation about the ever so possible book endangerment? Yes, there is, and it has been going on for quite some time. The advent of electronic reading devices, or ebook ereaders has begun to change the book perspective. It has to do with format, not content. People still want to read, and shop for books. That is not the dilemma. It's whether dead trees will contribute to the book format, or digital means will prevail.
A quote by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer renders a thought provoking possibillity: "There won't be newspapers, magazines and TV programs. There won't be personal, social communications offline and separate. In 10 years it will all be online. Static content won't cut it in the future" (seattlepi.com, blogs, posted by Nick Eaton, 6/24/09). Is he a seer? Is this just a doom and gloom prophecy? Maybe not.
There are many pro's for the demise of books in print, or, physical books with paper from trees. One is the ever popular green movement. Gas use has some bad results in the atmosphere, forests are disappearing, and the carbon footprint grows. Secondly, the recession has hit hard, and gas cost increases, mom and pop (independent) bookstores are crashing, and getting to them can cost more than online ordering. Third, the United States is overburdened with retail brick and mortar stores, massive malls, and more sales outlets than necessary. Ordering online takes some planning, and that wipes out the spend thrift ease of purchasing shiny objects at the mall.
So far there has been a demise of bookstores, newspapers and magazines. If they didn't take advantage of digital media, they died. The information highway is available faster than ever online, and those printed papers were static - they were old news. The youngest generations are all being tuned in rather than turned on! They don't read newspapers, magz or physical books. They are totally mobile, and read what they connect with online, and on a new ebook reader. Yes, I'm generalizing here a bit, but I do believe it is their preference to access a good read digitally.
What would Gutenberg think? The German inventor of the printing press process (1440) initiated a love affair of book bliss 5 1/2 centuries ago. Little did he know what his invention would create. I know for many book lovers that the ambiance surrounding a book is enough to make for a very happy experience. Often it means mingling with other like-minded book lovers, and a cozy time with a child on a lap, learning to turn a page, or point to a colorful illustration, or feel a texture from a pop-up book. Even solitude is less alone with a book. I love the image of being curled up in front of a fire with a book. Bookstores have the ambiance too. Just checking out the displays and different sections (travel, language, animals, etc.) equates to time well spent. Gutenberg gave us access to a broader knowledge. The internet gives even broader access, but the humanity of taking it in from the ambiance of the physical book format just can't be replaced.
An enlightening take on the topic of books: bliss or burden is a very funny book called, It's a Book . Published as a children's book, it's bound to become a classic for all book lovers! You can touch it and read it and buy it in a bookstore or order it online!