booksvsebooks On Newsweek, Malcolm Jones writes an interesting editorial pondering whether e-books might replace printed books, and if so, what will happen to libraries. Although, despite the mention of libraries in the article’s headline (“Farewell, Libraries?”), there is actually relatively little discussion of them within the article (even though one prominent library actually did ditch most of its print books recently, Jones never mentions it)—most of it is related to the same book-as-artifact vs. book-as-content discussion that is rehashed in every single argument over whether e-books are awesome or awful.

Expect this kind of thing to come up more and more, the bigger e-books’ market share gets, as more and more writers in the mainstream suddenly discover the issue and don’t realize it’s already been discussed to death. I will say this much for the Newsweek piece, though: it comes with a fairly nice infographic comparing the relative advantages e-books and printed books have.


  1. That piece recalls to mind a scene in one of the later film renditions of The Time Machine, where even in the supposed future–where paper books were on display as antique items–a massive library still existed where a hologram-type librarian would regale delighted children with stories, and thus stored “all human knowledge”. That film scene does not quite answer the eBook vs paper book question, but it does illustrate that libraries being viewed as banks of knowledge is a lasting idea. A few libraries are branching out to providing access to eBooks via device docking stations which rather strengthens the film scene’s credence.

    Many industries have had to evolve or become extinct; the publishing industry with–its many subsidiaries and facets–is no exception. I do agree that feeling the paper and seeing the cover artwork enhances the enjoyment of reading a paper book; as much as pieces of this nostalgic experience will be lost in technology’s march forward, as long as consumers favor eBooks verses their more expensive paper counterparts then non-digitized books will continue to fade.

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