Is Ebook Technology Killing the Printed Book?

ebook device
Photo by BibBornem on Pixabay

These days, the convenience of reading devices (e.g., Kindles) is unquestionable. But is ebook technology is killing the hard copy book?

Digital opens doors for more authors…

An electronic book doesn’t necessarily have to connect to a print copy. A publisher can release only an electronic copy. Technology thus can limit the number of printed books. But the reduced cost of e-publishing means that publishers can entertain more authors. So although the number of printed books might be lower, the number of works available in general goes up.

…but ebook technology doesn’t properly address aesthetics and divides yet

Publishers can save a lot of money by putting out electronic books. Even so, lots of people like the emotional and aesthetic aspects of traditional hard copies. They enjoy holding them, flipping pages, or smelling the paper and ink. These are things a digital copy of a book simply can’t offer.

Some people also like to highlight text or write their own notes in the margins. Additionally, certain types of books do not lend themselves as well to electronic formatting. A person might enjoy a book on art better, for example, if the pictures in the books aren’t crunched within a small screen. These types of books often hog the resources of a viewing device. They can have slow load times or require additional plugins or applications. Another good example is children’s books. Kids can be hard on electronics and often benefit from hands-on activities.

Lower-income individuals can be at a disadvantage with e-publishing. Even though ebooks themselves are cheaper to buy, ereaders can be expensive. Before publishers can eliminate print publishing completely, they have to address the problem of class and financial divides. Failure to do so might widen educational and literacy gaps. Lastly, some individuals, such as the elderly or those with a disability, might not be comfortable with electronic documents or devices. They might require special formatting or printing.

Don’t expect print books to die any time soon

All these things considered, technology certainly is changing the way people read and create writing projects. It’s also giving people more options about what to read. But because technology is never perfect, it likely will be a long time before the hard copy book gets completely phased out.