The Future of Books

An old friend of mine posted an interesting article on Facebook the other day. The article boasts a new app that will supposedly allow readers to finish entire novels in less than an hour and a half. Now, my friend who posted this is probably the biggest bookworm I know, so I wasn’t too surprised to see her post a story like this. But she did raise an interesting point, that while an app like this might encourage a “get it over with” mentality instead of a reading for pleasure one. It is an interesting thought, as college students, we often find ourselves bombarded with readings for class and a busy schedules to fit them in. That’s why so many of us turn to Sparknotes or other summaries. An app that allows us to read quickly may be a good compromise. This debate reminds me of something an old professor said about how you may think reading the summary is nowhere near the joy of reading Hamlet. So is this better? Is technology driven speed-reading the play the same as reading Hamlet?

The whole issue seems like a far less dramatic Fahrenheit 451 to me. I remember reading the novel in high school (in paper form) and having an in class discussion on the merits of e-books and physical paper books. There is something so satisfying about the physical act of opening and closing a book, as opposed to pressing a button or making a sweeping motion with a finger. However, I can see the advantages of eBooks in terms of price and convenience. All of this made me wonder whether eBooks could ever replace traditional books entirely but according to the Wall Street Journal, it isn’t likely. Ebook sales have slowed down significantly while hard cover sales have remained strong. The WSJ also suggests that, much like, audiobooks, e-books will be used to complement books, rather than replace them. According to Pew research, 90% of e-book readers also read physical books (Carr, 2014).

Overall, these statistics are comforting for the fate of traditional books. But I do wonder how physical books will fare over the next hundred years, even if they maintain relevance in our own lifetimes. Personally, I would be likely to use a speed-reading app like the one my friend shared on Facebook for readings for class, but to stick to paper while reading for pleasure. Do you use an e-reader or tablet for books, and do you think that they are likely to replace traditional books?

References

Carr, N. (2013, January 5). Don’t burn your books—print is here to stay. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323874204578219563353697002

La Du, C. (2014, March 4). This insane new app will allow you to read novels in under 90 minutes. Retrieved from http://elitedaily.com/news/technology/this-insane-new-app-will-allow-you-to-read-novels-in-under-90-minutes/

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7 thoughts on “The Future of Books

  1. I personally have trouble reading e-books when reading for pleasure. I find it hard staring at a screen for such prolonged periods of time, and when I’m reading an e-book I do not feel as immersed in the world of the book as I do when I have a hard copy in my hands.

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  2. I personally own a Kindle–I find it better for pleasure-reading, lacking for school-reading. Oftentimes reading for school demands a level of interactivity (taking notes, marking passages, highlighting) that can’t be fully captured in an e-reader format. For this reason, I think and hope that physical books are here to stay.

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  3. I love hearing this news from the WSJ. I personally despise e-books and tablets and refuse to ever use one. I love the feel and smell of hand-held, paper books, especially old, used books; there’s so much history in them. I like to think about where they’ve traveled and who held them.

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  4. I heard about this speed-reading app, and actually tried out the software online. It was insane! The words moved very quickly but I realized that I was comprehending just as well as I usually would. I’m anxiously awaiting the app- I think it could make class readings a lot more painless.

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    • This is such a weird idea for an app to me – coming from someone who has never heard of it before it’s interesting to know someone else has tried it. I wonder if cognitively the speed-reading app will affect how well readers retain information when they are forced to read so fast and if it will make reading in general more efficient or just more tiring.

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  5. Like others have mentioned, I use e-readers for pleasure reading and physical books for school. I’m not sure I would like the speed-reading ap, because I don’t really mind reading assignments to begin with and I think speed-reading in the long run might be detrimental. I do think it’s better than just relying on Sparknotes though.

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  6. This is great! After reading this article, I felt like I wanted to start using it. I wonder if I will be able to ready and comprehend it the same way because it is going faster. I definitely think this idea will kick off.

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