Recently I found myself browsing around on Spotify for some new music to listen to, and something random occurred to me: I haven’t bought an actual CD in years.
This got me thinking about other things like TV shows and films, and how I haven’t bought a DVD since getting Netflix, and in turn, this had me thinking about books.
Now, I used to be a steadfast member of the ‘physical books only’ crew, and totally rejected the idea of ebooks. I did buy the second version of the Kindle, tried it, and decided it wasn’t for me, and continued reading physical books for years.
Then, a couple of years ago, my friend got a Kindle, and I found myself tempted to give it another try… Especially as the latest iteration (the basic one anyway!) was fairly affordable, and was a nice size to carry around in your bag. So I bought it, and quickly realised how convenient it was, and in short, was a convert! I still buy and read a lot of physical books, but I’d say the split is pretty much 50:50 now.
And it seems to be quite a common story with people: those who weren’t initially sold on the idea of ebooks are coming around and coming to love ebooks. Because what’s not to love? You can have a brand new read within seconds as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, it’s super easy to take even the longest book with you wherever you go, and you can have thousands of books right there in your pocket!
It seems like the world in general is moving more towards the convenience of digital products, and buying things online, and in some cases, I can see physical copies of some products, and actual physical high street shops that sell them dying out completely in the future.
But can I see that happening with books? Is the future of reading digital?
In short: I don’t personally think so. Of course, I’m not exactly an industry expert, but through the blogging world I know a lot of avid readers, and can I imagine many of them completely forsaking physical books? That’s a resounding no!
Because us bookworms are incredibly passionate about books, and however much I’ve come to appreciate ebooks, I think we can all agree that nothing beats the feeling of an actual book in your hand. Or being able to look at the collection of books on your bookshelves, books you’ve maybe owned for years and were childhood favourites, or newer books that you read and fell hopelessly in love with… Books hold entire worlds inside them, and there’s a certain physicality to them, and their ability to hold our thoughts, memories and feelings at the time of reading them that ebooks just can’t replace.
And this isn’t just my own emotions and feelings towards books talking: studies done back in 2017 show that ebook sales had dropped significantly, and that young people were actually leaning more towards buying physical books than ebooks. The study attributed this to books being a break away from the screens of the digital devices they’re inundated with, but I also wonder if it’s another way in which we’re harking back to simpler times, like the recent surge in people buying records and record players.
Libraries are also another factor in why I can’t imagine the physical book ever dying out. Whilst lots of libraries have now embraced the ebook thing and allow you to borrow digital copies of books, there’s still a huge amount of people who regularly visit actual libraries. In fact, many people rely on libraries for almost all of their reading material. After all, whilst ebooks are sometimes cheaper than physical books, they aren’t free, like lending books from a library is.
In short, I think there’s a place for both physical books and ebooks in the world, and I can’t see one ever completely replacing the other. Physical books have existed for thousands of years, and will probably continue on for as long as people do, and have the resources to print them.
Ebooks are a wonderful thing, giving us access to a bigger wealth of titles than ever before, at the touch of a few buttons, but that doesn’t mean that digital books are the future of reading. No one knows exactly what the future will hold, or what new technology will come along and make the things we use today seem obsolete, but I just can’t imagine paper books not existing!
So what do you think? Do you think the future of reading is digital, or do you agree that physical books will never die?