Sunday, July 24, 2011

Are Traditional Books Dead?

Hey all, welcome back to From the Mind of Dan. Today I want to take an oppurtunity to start a look at  something that fascinates me: technology. And I don't mean how technology has changed since it was invented but how much it's changed just since the year of my birth, 1992. A lot of people think if you want to see how much technology has changed for something you have to look back to the record players of the 50's or the industrial machines of the industrial revolution up to today. In reality you can see a nice grasp on how technology has changed by just looking at 18 years or so. Before I get to the main point of todays post I want to start by discussing music.

When I was a kid there are a few distinct ways I remember listening to music. The first was on the car radio. That's a way of listening to music thats still around though it is slowly being replaced by services like Last.FM, Pandora, Spotify, and various satilite radio services. The second way is casettes. I admit that somewhere in my room I still have a casette player that (I think) still works and a handful or so of casettes that a kid would listen to when they're four, five, or six. I remeber also being able to take casettes and listen to them on the old car radio but then came a new invention, the CD.

When the year was about....2000 or so I remeber getting my first cd player.  I was 8 or 10 so I don't really remeber hearing about the hype of an ipod and what not, at the time we had just gotten a computer. Anyway a good part of my childhood was spent listening to music on CD's, though I admit I don't have a large collection of these either due to storage space needs. In 2005 or 2006 I got my first MP3 Player (I've since gotten an iPod) and that opened up a whole new world to me: digital music and being able to rip a CD and put it on this little device, take it on the go, and listen to it. There was a lot of talk that started to brew up after that point where people were starting to say that the CD format would be replaced by formats like FLAC and MP3. I think that's both true and false at the same time. On one hand you can still get CD's new at stores of modern releases, although there isn't a massive ammount of dedicated music stores around now. Most of the ones you find sell used records, CD's, and cassettes for hardcore collectors or for  those who either can't or refuse to take part in the technical revolution. In short: the MP3 player is killing the cd format. It's giving good blows left and right to it and eventually you'll see even fewer CD's in stores than you do now. That brings me  to my point of this blog:

I live in a town called EHT in Southern New Jersey.  If I want a book I basically have two local options: Atlantic Books in Somer's Point or Borders in Mays Landing, there isn't really a dedicated bookstore in EHT. True I can get books at Shop Rite or Ollies or  Sams or Wal-Mart or K-Mart or Target but that isn't the same as getting a book  at a BOOKSTORE. A  place dedicated to selling books, maybe with a few comfy chairs and the like. Now that I am out of high school I am finding myself doing a bit more reading because I am not being pushed to do so. At first I was splitting my reading between a Sharper Image Literati and actual books I would buy at Borders. I have a nice stack of unread real books I will pull  through in time, but from here on out I am going digital with all of my new reading because of a double hitter. Borders decided  to close it's doors for one reason or another so they are having their liquidation sales. That's ok, I can live with Atlantic Books in Somer's Point. But wait a second! Yesterday I was at Atlantic Books and they were even deeper into their liquidation sales. That means the only two local dedicated bookstores are gone! The closest one I currently know of is the two Atlantic Books located in Ocean City on the Boardwalk. Soon I want to head over and see if they are also closing their doors. If they are then it backs up my thoughts: the ereader and ebooks have KILLED the tradition book.

Now before you go on a tirade and say that books will never be dead, I just want to claify that traditional books are dead. Ebooks are alive and pleantiful and will be for a long time in the future. Authors will continue to crank out books. Stephen King  isn't going to cease to turn out tales of Macbre. AJ Jacobs won't give up on turning himself into a human guinea pig and most importantly celebrities (both those we love like Dick Van Dyke and Betty White and those we hate like J WOWW and Snookie) will continue to turn out life stories and tell alls. Never fear those won't cease. What will cease is the mass production of physical copies that waste trees and other resources to be made. Book production will always exist and writers will always make a buck but the means in which they do it are now digital. It's time to love and embrace devices like the Kindle, the Nook, the Literati, and the Sony Reader. What it will be interesting to see is if a company comes out with a very affordable ereader that appeals to the every day individual. The main thing that keeps people from  ereaders right now is the fact that they have to pay for books and shell out 100-200 dollars for a device. What we need is an eink reader that can be made cheaply be durable and be sold for 30 or 40 dollars so that people can adapt to the modern trend much like they did when music went digital. Look at MP3 players for a moment. Some only cost 20 or 30 dollars while others are a few hundred.

Anyway what are your  thoughts on this? Do you prefer to read a traditional book or an ebook? Do you believe that all of the bookstore closings are a sign that traditional books are going the way of cd's? What is your ereader  of choice? Sound off to these questions and leave your thoughts below and be sure to keep an eye out for an upcoming post on the advantages and disadvantages of ereading.

Until Next Time,

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