BooksCorrespondenceCreative WritingNewspapers & MagazinesPoetryQuotationsWriting

Will Books Become Obsolete?

Updated on February 13, 2017
sharonbellis profile image

Sharon is a certified Human Resources Manager with a passion for health topics, reading non-fiction books and research writing.

Will book sales be a thing of the past?
Will book sales be a thing of the past? | Source

Will Books Disappear?

Books becoming obsolete and disappearing altogether seems rather far fetched, but is it? I have loved books all my life. Since I was a small child I always had a book in my hand. As I grew older I still enjoyed reading although the amount of time I could dedicate to this pleasure became infringed upon with work and children etc. etc. You know the story.

I still feel the attraction to the printed book. I love libraries and I could spend days in a bookstore. I just feel good in those places. The thought that bookstores and libraries may not exist in the future saddens me. I hope I do not see this happen in my lifetime. I honestly hope it will never happen. Technology persists and many forms of print media will fall to the digital age. Will books disappear? Lets examine the future of the beloved book.

The E Reader

Kindle | Source

Electronic Books

On the road to the disappearance of books; we have the E-Reader. This little device has changed things somewhat. In the back of my mind I have made a note to self to look into them. I have a friend who swears by it and loves her Kindle. My reluctance? I don't like reading on screens unless I have no choice.

Books have not disappeared yet so I still have that choice. I love the feel, look and even the smell of a new book. I don't know but curling up with your E-reader just doesn't seem as enticing to me.

These devices do present one definite advantage. Travel. For those of us who love to catch up on our reading on vacation, you can't beat bringing along your E-Reader. For voracious readers, packing and lugging all those books around is difficult. E-Readers can carry hundreds of titles. So I can see having one just for this purpose.

Another obvious advantage is the environmental impact. One cannot deny that many trees will be saved by the use of technology.

Another advantage and an interesting statistic I found was that 59 percent of the purchases of digital reading devices are by people over the age of 55! This is likely due to the fact you can increase print size easily on an E-reader. The younger generation is not purchasing these devices. Remember E-readers are book readers. Will the printed book become obsolete during the lifetimes of the "digital native"?

Older Adults like E readers
Older Adults like E readers | Source

Do You Own an E-Reader?

See results

The Digital Native

Will Digital Native read traditional books?
Will Digital Native read traditional books? | Source

Growing up with Books and Technology

I have recently learned some new terms. I first heard the phrase "digital native" at a conference I attended. It will eventually, I believe, become the moniker they give the generation that comes after the millenniels. But my research reveals that it refers to anyone born after 1980.

Being born after that year means you have grown up with the internet and you will not remember the way life was before it. Older people, the other hand are considered "digital immigrants". They had to "immigrate" to this new digital land and learn how to use it. I marvel at my how my children (all born after 1980) embrace new forms of technology. Have you ever seen them look at the manual? Never. They pick up the new gadget and they use it immediately. They just know how. Their brains are wired differently I suppose. My children had computers in their kindergarten classroom so it is no wonder.

Statistics on the "digital natives" show that they do most of their reading on the web. Only seven minutes per day is spent reading from books!

I am unsure of this generation and those statistics. I have twin daughters born in 1995. One rarely touches a book but the other is a reader. She buys and swaps books with her friends. She checks books out of the library and she buys books at book stores. Never once asking for a kindle or similar device.

I don't believe this generation will see the demise of books. I still see the interest of my daughter and her friends born in the '90s. I think it is the generation born later that we may have to worry about. Or do we? Will there always be bookworms? Is it a human trait that will endure?

The Bookless Public Library Is Here...Can it be true?

Apparently a "bookless" library is being designed for launch in San Antonio, Texas in the fall of 2013. Will it take off? Will it be popular? This remains to be seen. Something to watch as this could be the beginning of the end for paper books.

Print Media and You!

Reading real books
Reading real books | Source

Do you consider yourself a book worm? An avid reader?

See results

The Future of Print Media

Will reference books be first to go?
Will reference books be first to go? | Source

Reference Books and Newspapers

The Oxford English Dictionary has announced that it will no longer have a printed edition. I suppose this should be an alarming turn. But I don't believe so. The dictionary online is what I use. It is quick and convenient. If the print media is providing factual information, or reporting current events, they will eventually fall to the digitial format as generations pass.

Most major newspapers have a digital version. With the web we get our news instantaneously, as it happens, updating as we go along. Twitter has the scoop long before the news even hits the web. I was told about the death of Michael Jackson by my daughter who found out via Twitter. I didn't believe her especially when she told me the source. I have come to find that the "twitterverse" is quite reliable. My daughters often report things to me and more often than not it comes from their twitter feeds.

I am not sure how long newspapers will hold on. I know I used to love to read the paper. I don't anymore. I grew up with it being delivered daily to my house. My parents still have the newspaper delivered daily, but they don't have access to the web. They didn't digitally immigrate! If there is some news event I want to get an update on I usually "Google it".

But books are different. They are an art form filled with ideas and creativity. Hardcovers may not survive, as they are expensive and it is much less expensive to download books on your E-Reader or wait until the paperback comes out. I can't remember the last time I read or purchased a hardcover book. I remember getting one as a gift for Christmas. It was a new release from an favourite author and given to me by my mother.... in 1982.

But wait, remember that daughter of mine who is a reader? She has hardcovers. Yes, the most popular books like "The Hunger Games" are being passed around her friends. Interesting, but still, most books don't reach that level of popularity with a movie deal and all.

So we may see many types of print media disappear but will books that are read for pleasure and ideas be among them?

The End of Newspapers?

Do You Read Newspapers?

See results

Will Books Become Obsolete? Credibility

The written word
The written word | Source

Printed Media has Permanency

Print is permanent. It cannot be easily changed. That passage you found and quoted on the web could be gone tomorrow, not so with print.

Books go to publishers and are scrutinized and put through a process. A lot of time is spend in editing, printing and promotion. You have to have something interesting to say and you must be creative. Your writing is being judged before it is released to the world. Not so in the digital form. Anyone can now write an ebook build a website and sell the information. There are no referees.

Digital media can also be changed and updated quite easily. Didn't have the facts straight - no problem, push button edit. This is not so with the printed word, you must ensure what you are producing is accurate before it finds its way into the hands the consumer. Digital media does not require this certainty of accuracy. Speed is the the driver. After all time is money and it can always be updated later, right?

So, having a book in print says something about the author. It gives the author more credibility as it speaks to their commitment on the topic. Again, this may change over time but perhaps the printed word will become the domain of the creative elite? Definitely food for thought.

Books are Art.
Books are Art. | Source

The Art of Books

Books as Art. Books are much more aesthetically pleasing than the E-readers they are uploaded on. No one can argue the beauty of a book. The feel of it in your hand, the smell, the stylish cover, your favourite bookmark. All aesthetic pleasures. We are still human no matter how far we take our technology. We still appreciate design. Books are art. They hold our creativity in a pleasing format.

Remember candles were once the only means of lighting at night. We have had electricity now for centuries, yet the candle persists because it is beautiful, romantic, relaxing and a business worth millions! This is just one example but there are many. Technologies will become obsolete because we make something better and faster. Remember the eight track tape? Books have artistic value while eight tracks are clunky and ugly.

I was in a record store the other day and I saw a vinyl record by Adele. Adele? Hey, she was born after 1980! So the vinyl record is perhaps an art form now. A collectible. The jacket had a large photo of her face in black and white. Beautiful.

Handwriting is another art form. My children can barely write in cursive script but are adept at the keyboard. But handwriting is beautiful and will endure as a craft.

Books will also endure in my opinion. There is still a large segment of the population who love books in the printed format. I am one of those people and my young daughter is one too. Are you?

Are you a book lover or is digital for you?

See results

Readers Share Their Thoughts

Will Books Disappear?

Yes, It's Inevitable
No, There Will Always Be a Demand for Books
Sadly, I think it's very possible that, eventually, there won't be many printed books left. I think that libraries might last a long time, but more and more bookstores are already closing. - Breanne Ginsburg
No, there will always be the allure of a book that won't run out of batteries. - ThreeQuarters2Day
I hate to admit but I have to agree because trees aren't like grass. It isn't everywhere. I love books to be honest, but technology is kind of ruining the use for it. The feeling of flipping a page is forever in my taste. - anonymous
No, paper for the win! - anonymous
Unfortunately... - NoYouAreNot
No, I don't think so as people (including myself) like them too much - NonCopyBook
In the Middle Ages, monks created beautiful, hand-lettered manuscripts. The printing press made producing manuscripts by hand obsolete. In the same way, digital publishing will make the mass production of books obsolete. There may always be a market for people who want to own books as "antiques." - anonymous
No, I think people love the least I hope not... - Stargrrl
In a few years, everything will be electronic. - Jack2205
I hope they'll always be around. - favored
Not soon, but in another few generations, probably. - anonymous
No, there will always be the allure of a book that won't run out of batteries. - ThreeQuarters2Day
I think given time and new generations that books in the old format of paper and bindings will be found in museums rather than in houses and schools. Technology will eventually take over. We see it now with online purchasing rather than in-store. Times, they are a-changing. - seeker2011 Im
Maybe WW3 will make the world return to the stone age again. There will be always a place for paper books in the future. Are you forgetting third world countries ? - anonymous
I think so, but I don't think it will happen anytime soon. As you mentioned, the fact that Oxford dictionary is not publishing its printed version anymore is an important clue. - adragast24
I don't think printed books will die. I have a kindle that I purchased while deployed in the military and I must admit that it was incredible for providing me tons of books and the ability to get more instantly. But, I love to go to bookstores and browse for that perfect book which simply is much less pleasant than surfing Amazon. I dread the day my beloved paperbacks become obsolete, but I truly believe they will not. - A Sailor
Yes and hope to see it happen in the next 5 years. - HorseAndPony LM
No, I think there will always be actual books out there. - Loretta L
I think there will always be a select few who are collectors but for the most part I do think books will become obsolete. I don't think we will see it in the next 30 years but we are definitely working toward it. - PromptWriter
Maybe at some point, but I think it is a long way off yet. - jolou
The world is forever moving forward and it's all about being fast and convenient. - rallo-smith
There'll always be books in the printed form. I hope they don't become a luxury object but I fear they will. - Paul Ward
Probably, but I hope they will always be available. Between the art of them, and the fact that the librarians will be put out of work! - Zodiacimmortal
I can see the "pulp fiction" going digital — mysteries, romance novels, etc. But I would hope that literary works of art will always have a place in society. - anonymous
In the present use, yes. They will be kept as art objects. - Gypzeerose
It is probably inevitable in the distant future but there will always be books because the feel and smell of a book are different to a sterile-feeling Kindle or e-reader. It's just not the same. Even if books do become rarer, they will still be collectors' items. - victoriahaneveer
Eventually, yes. - YogaAngel
There will always be a need for printed books. - GeekGirl1
I can see cds/dvds dissappearing, but not books. - anonymous
No. People will realize that there is a need for both digital, audio and print version of books. Perhaps we need to look at ways in which to make print more popular alongside digital. Artwork, the 'feel' of a book — these are things that are not easily replicated in digital. I am going in the direction of reading digital and then, if i love the book, buying a nice copy of it to treasure - LittleMy LM
No way. The feeling of sitting down with a new book to read can't be matched with an electronic device. - gold3
I agree that they are an art form and art will continue to be made as long as people continue to be creative. Besides, there's something pleasing and relaxing about the look, feel and smell of books. - Kae Yo
Vinyl records now sell more than cds - there will always be a market for something people think connects them to art. - Mark Shirbroun
No, while reference type books might become obsolete, I think other types will continue to flourish. - ccmushroom
They said that TV would kill off attendance at football grounds (that's soccer to some.) Have you seen how big Old Trafford is? And it's nearly full most games. - JohnTannahill
I used to think that they would, but I am of the opinion that quality books will still be published in paper form. - Mickie Gee
I think books will stick around. Technology can only give us so much, but there is nothing like a printed book in your hands! - pheonix76
Some types of books can only be appreciated in print. We have a huge library of art books in our way can looking at a Raphael or Da Vinci painting on a tiny digital monitor at all compares to a beautiful color reproduction in a lavish art book. - sockii

Have Your Say

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Max 2 months ago

      Since books might not disappear, disappearance of books means no, they'll be stored via teleportation to devices. In fact, teleportation to devices will replace bags, so people can never lug things around.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      Glenis Rix 4 months ago from UK

      Like you I would be very sad if the printed page and libraries were to disappear. Holding a Kindle can't compare to the tactile pleasure of opening a book or the wonderful smell of a printed page. Books will be around for as long as people are prepared to buy them. If each of us purchased only one book each year there would be no problem

    • profile image

      Stargrrl 2 years ago

      Good article. I hope books do not become obsolete, and that Barnes and Nobles stays open.

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 2 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Yes, it does save on trees that's for sure, but there is just something special about holding a book rather than a digital screen. Thanks for reading.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 2 years ago from Earth

      Printing must be so expensive, and with more people buying digital iterations, I guess it makes sense that a lot of things will no longer be available in paper edition. It is sad though, and I think the next generation will really miss out on the smell and feel of books.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      I would be very sad if books were no longer printed. There's just something about holding one, taking notes and dog-earing a page.

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

      Dawn Romine 3 years ago from Nebraska

      Great lens, I love to read, unfortunately I spend too much time on the internet, squidoo and my phone. But I relish a good book and the journey it takes me on.

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 4 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      What a brilliant lens. Well informed, personal, and also informative. I really enjoyed reading this. Glad I happened by.

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 4 years ago

      Credibility -- not being susceptible to change -- is a major advantage of printed books. Will misinformation rise as a result of accumulated slight changes in texts/books/excerpts/quotes that circulate widely on the 'net? Hmmm...

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 4 years ago

      I think newspapers will disappear sooner than books. They will all go to an online format. Already many newspapers have gone out of business or they are no longer publishing daily. I think we are a long way from books becoming obsolete, but it's hard to say for sure. Many people love the advantage of using a Kindle. No trips to the store or having to wait for a book to arrive in the mail, and it's cheaper too.

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 4 years ago

      Liked the terms 'digital natives' and 'digital immigrants'. Demand for books will remain for ever, though the digital natives may affect its production cost in the coming decades.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Creating a book is an art. From the labor of the writer, to the creation of the cover art, to the marketing of the book - creating a physical book is art. And like you, I love books. Even love the smell of books. But publishing is changing and I think that books are going the way of the buggy whip. I wonder if centuries from now, museums will display books? This was an engaging and thought-provoking lens. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      @NibsyNell: I would like to think so, I love my books

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      I hope books don't disappear altogether! I think they'll always exist in some form or another.

    • Kumar P S profile image

      Kumar P S 4 years ago

      Great Lens ! Thanks for sharing.

    • PaulWinter profile image

      PaulWinter 4 years ago

      Although I love my Kindle, it isn't the same as having a real book. I don't think books will disappear all together, especially reference books. But digital books are likely to be more popular because they take up no space and can be bought and accessed virtually instantly/

    • GeekGirl1 profile image

      GeekGirl1 4 years ago

      Great lens. With the new technologies nowadays, it will really make us think about this. I hope that I will still see printed books in the future.

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      @MarcStorm LM: Thanks for you input Marc, its always great to know that a "digital native" still collects and loves books. The security and the non permanency of digital media is a serious concern. I enjoyed your commentary, thanks for visiting.

    • MarcStorm LM profile image

      MarcStorm LM 5 years ago

      I think eventually they will be limited to only a short supply and people will have to put in orders to online stores to have a book printed, if they wish to have one in that form. Everything becomes retro and an antique! I love books, I love having a collection of them on a shelf, I love the smell, the feel. It's great for the environment and the only thing that scares me is hackers, getting into what you publish online and destroying it. The main thing to take away from it is, to back up everything! Everything you own electronic should be backed up. In the event your computer, hard drives or discs(holding your data or pictures) should be destroyed, then you'll lose your digital memories! Use an online data storage site or keep your valuable data in a firebox! Thanks for this article! I admire your daughter & her friends reading habits! I was born in 83 and have been loving technologies' further births. The golden age of video gaming etc. The future is bright but probably too fast paced, everyone's in a rush and multi-tasking their bodies into unhealthy, damaging submission. Don't text and walk! lol Best Wishes!

    • profile image

      dream1983 5 years ago

      Awesome lens, great job!

    Click to Rate This Article