I read this interesting article from ars technica. It seems that we humans have an emotional bond with good, old-fashioned books.
No surprise, I think; for three good reasons:
- Practical – books are surprisingly good at what they do. They are particularly portable, durable, relatively light-weight, reasonably cheap (the world won’t end if you leave one on a train or in a bar – unlike your laptop) and – with the aid of a hi-tech add-on called a "book-mark" – they boot up instantly to where you left off. All of which makes them easy to pull out in the check-in queue at the airport, or on the beach, or in bed or wherever. They just work. Also, they are robust. If you fall asleep and drop your book on the floor, it doesn’t matter (within reason). And there is no fatiguing back-light to contend with.
- Visceral – there is something beautifully tactile about a book. Even the nastiest, cheapest paperback speaks back to us as we turn the pages let alone the rich aroma of a treasured old, leather bound volume.
- Psychological – From our earliest age – well, 5 or so – we constantly receive the highest praise for our success with books. Well done, fantastic reading. Along with hand-writing, reading is one of the first great achievements of which we remain conscious. No wonder we form such an attachment to books.
I can foresee electronic replacements coming in time, particularly for reference material where there are so many advantages to be had from easy search and the use of digital ink. For leisure, though, I think it is a long way off.