eReaders put writing on the wall for books



When you walk through my front door you’re immediately greeted by a bookshelf packed with all the great writers. Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Chekhov…

emptylibrary.jpg
Could eReaders spell the end for libraries?

Yes, I own all the books by the most celebrated authors of all time. I haven’t actually read any of them yet… But it doesn’t stop me pontificating to my friends about how they really should educate themselves. Hmmmph, philistines!

Anyway, my long nights flicking through the pages of literary greats without taking in a single word could soon be over.

eReaders have been something of a reading revolution and it’s easy to see why. Why lug around a bag full of books when you can load an extensive library onto a handheld device?

Buying books is made easier, too. No more trips to the bookshop or library in the hope of finding what you want or putting in a request. Instead, just type in the name of the book you want and download it in a matter of seconds. And you don’t even have to speak in hushed tones.

The rise of electronic text hasn’t been restricted to novels either. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and Steve Jobs’ Apple are teaming up to produce The Daily, a newspaper for the iPad generation.

Its launch may have been put back a bit, but with the promise of video, audio and other dynamic content, The Daily should prove to be a hit with readers. Good news for klutzes like me who can’t fold and butcher the paper for everyone else!

Naysayers will argue a gadget can never replace the feeling of breaking a book’s spine as you settle in for a good read, or reading the morning newspapers over your cereal and orange juice.

What about people who like to read in the bath or on the beach? It’s a bit of a downer if you drop a rare copy of William Shatner’s Tekwar into the soapy water, but seeing your Sony PRS-350 disappear into the suds would be heartbreaking. Drying this one out on a radiator just isn’t going to work…

Then there’s the danger of forgetting it somewhere and losing a piece of kit that’s pricier than a paperback.

Those who say ebooks and The Daily won’t take off would do well to look at the demise of CDs after MP3 players boomed. How many of you swore that you would keep buying CDs because you loved the cover art and admiring your physical library? I certainly did – now I haven’t bought a CD in years.

Increasing numbers of people are now reading their news on websites rather than buying the paper, so The Daily should perform well – especially with powerful figures like Murdoch and Jobs backing it to succeed.

Maybe leaving books and newspapers behind is not exactly what William Caxton had in mind when he invented the printing press, but new technology is difficult to ignore when the features are so rich.

The era of passing on second-hand books to friends may be ended by eReaders, which is sad, but bookworms will be able to download new titles the second they have been recommended to them, so it’s not the end of the community.

Some people will prefer holding classics in their hands and enjoy turning the pages, and it’s hard to see all the newsstands disappearing just yet – so the printed word should live on.

But new technology has begun to enrich our reading experience and it’s only going to get more impressive.

Will you be ditching your collection of classic novels for an eReader? Can reading The Daily on your iPad replace folding a broadsheet? Comment below…