Will Books Become Obsolete?

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?

  • Yes, and I love it!
  • Yes, but I only use it occasionally
  • No, but I am thinking of buying one
  • No, I love my books thank you!
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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 bookworm? An avid reader?

  • Yes, I love to read its my favourite pass time!
  • Somewhat, I like to read but I wouldn't consider myself a bookworm
  • No, not at all, I'm not a reader
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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?

  • Yes, delivered daily!
  • Yes, but only occasionally.
  • Yes, but very rarely.
  • No, never.
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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.

Will Books Disappear: The Staying Power of Art

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?

  • I love books!
  • Either medium is fine for me
  • Digital all the way!
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The Future of Books

Do you think Books Will Become Obsolete?

Yes, its inevitable

A Sailor 3 months ago

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 allowing me tons of books and the ability to get more instantly. But, I love to go to book stores and browse for that perfect book which simply is much less pleasant while surfing amazon.

I dread the day my beloved paperbacks become obsolete, but I truly believe they will not.

A Sailor 3 months ago

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 allowing me tons of books and the ability to get more instantly. But, I love to go to book stores and browse for that perfect book which simply is much less pleasant while surfing amazon.

I dread the day my beloved paperbacks become obsolete, but I truly believe they will not.

anonymous 11 months ago

no, paper for the win!

Breanne Ginsburg 21 months ago

Sadly, I think it's very possible that, eventually, there won't be many in print books left. I think that libraries might last a long time, but more and more bookstores are already closing.

anonymous 3 years ago

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.

NoYouAreNot 3 years ago


anonymous 3 years ago

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."

Jack2205 3 years ago

In a few years, everything will be electronic.

anonymous 4 years ago

Not soon, but in another few generations, probably.

seeker2011 lm 4 years ago

I think given time and new generations and books in the old format of paper and bindings will be found in museums rather than in house and schools. Technology will eventually take over. We see it now with online purchasing rather than in-store. Times they are a changing.

adragast24 4 years ago

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

HorseAndPony LM 4 years ago

Yes and hope to see it happen in the next 5 years.

PromptWriter 4 years ago from Eastern Ontario

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.

rallo-smith 4 years ago

The world is forever moving forward and it's all about being fast and convenient.

Zodiacimmortal 4 years ago from Yonkers, NY

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!

Gypzeerose 4 years ago

In the present use yes. They will be kept as art objects.

YogaAngel 4 years ago

Eventually, yes.

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    No, there will always be a demand for books

    sharonbellis 20 months ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Yes, I hope so too. I am one of those people who adores books.

    NonCopyBook 20 months ago from NSW Australia

    No - I don't think so as people (including myself) like them too much

    Stargrrl 22 months ago

    No, I think people love the least I hope not...

    favored 2 years ago from USA

    I hope they'll always be around.

    ThreeQuarters2Day 3 years ago from Nebraska

    No, there will always be the allure of a book that won't run out of batteries.

    anonymous 3 years ago

    Maybe ww3 will make the world going to stone age again. There will be always a place for paper books in the future. Are you forgetting third world countries ?

    Loretta L 3 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

    No, I think there will always be actual books out there.

    ChristyZ 3 years ago

    I hope not!

    Andrea RM 3 years ago

    no no no no...

    jolou 3 years ago

    Maybe at some point, but i think it is a long way off yet.

    srsddn lm 3 years ago

    Digital immigrants will keep the demand going, though there would be significant decline in demand. But some demand will remain always.

    Paul Ward 3 years ago from Liverpool, England

    There'll always be books in the printed form. I hope they don't become a luxury object but I fear they will.

    anonymous 3 years ago

    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.

    victoriahaneveer 4 years ago

    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.

    GeekGirl1 4 years ago

    There will always be a need for printed books.

    anonymous 4 years ago

    I can see cds/dvds dissappearing, but not books.

    anonymous 4 years ago

    I hope not.

    LittleMy LM 4 years ago

    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 ...

    AfroMuscle 4 years ago


    Fizza555 4 years ago

    No, not in near future atleast

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      Have your say..... 71 comments

      Brite-Ideas profile image

      Brite-Ideas 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      love the touch, feel, color and smell that you get from real books!

      lclchors profile image

      lclchors 4 years ago

      Very well done lens

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      We need permanent records of key events. So I hope books continue.

      YogaAngel profile image

      YogaAngel 4 years ago

      I just got my kindle. I was wondering the same thing...If books would become obsolete one day?

      Gypzeerose profile image

      Gypzeerose 4 years ago

      Lovely, thoughtful lens about one of my favorite topics.

      sharonbellis profile image

      sharonbellis 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada Author

      @Gypzeerose: Thank you, I really enjoyed creating it.

      sharonbellis profile image

      sharonbellis 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada Author

      @lclchors: Thank you, I worked hard on it, a labour of love!

      Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi Bush 4 years ago from Maryland

      I would like to get an e-reader for the gym, but books will NEVER be obsolete in my house! I love to flip pages and the smell of's an addiction I don't feel the need to give up! :) Great lens!

      sharonbellis profile image

      sharonbellis 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada Author

      @Brandi Bush: Yes, me too. I'm thinking of an e reader too, but I will always prefer my books :)

      BarbaraSellers 4 years ago

      I had one entire wall in my house turned into a built-in bookcase, walll-to-wall, ceiling to floor, and it is full of books. Trouble is, if I lived to be 150, I still would probably never live long enough to find the time to read all of them. Perhaps one of these days I could lock my doors, unplug the land phones, turn off the cell phone and have a personal READ-A-THON! Yeah, right!!!

      sharonbellis profile image

      sharonbellis 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada Author

      @BarbaraSellers: Your bookcase sounds awesome! I would love to fill a wall with books.

      Zodiacimmortal profile image

      Zodiacimmortal 4 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      Cool lens I've added it to my No Bummer summer reader

      SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      I, too, have a wall of books, not to mention several bookcases in other parts of the house. I do fear e-readers will be the dominant force in the future but there will still be a place for books for all the reasons you give. I'd also say any books with illustrations, whether artistic or informative are surely going to be better in print. I can't imagine trying to refer back to a family tree covering two pages on an e-reader.

      LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 4 years ago

      A lot of food for thought...but we are biased by our age, you and I! As I am about to publish my book, I went through the agony of digital vs. printed and decided on both. Someday, I want to see my book in Barnes and Noble -- and you can't autograph an EBook!

      PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 4 years ago from State of Confussion

      Face it there is nothing like the new book smell. Just like that there is nothing like the old book smells. My wife once got a set of encyclopedias at a used book sale. The reason was that they were the same make as the kind she had when growing up. Even more than that they smelled the same. We have had them now over 20 years.

      They are Collier's Encyclopedia.

      sockii profile image

      sockii 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Great topics. While I do appreciate ebooks for many purposes (quick/fast reads at the gym or while traveling), I don't think anything will ever truly replace a printed book. Just like some of us still love and appreciate vinyl records...there's a time and place for everything. And enthusiasts will always love a quality printed volume.

      gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 4 years ago

      This was a subject I was talking about recently. I don't know if they will become completely obsolete, but unfortunately it is always a possibility. I do not like ebooks. I prefer an actual book, in fact, I just bought a new one yesterday.

      pheonix76 profile image

      phoenix76 4 years ago from WNY

      I don't think books are going anywhere. True, we might see a reduction in the titles available in print, but there will still be plenty of books for those who seek to read the printed word! Also, remember that although e-readers are not made with paper, they carry their own environmental impact. Thought-provoking lens!

      IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I feel certain that there will still be people that like to read a good book and turn "real" pages.....I know at my house there will be!

      NewUsedCarsSacramento 4 years ago

      Nice lens! I believe nothing can kill books.

      Maybe we will see more technologies are coming in and people are, as we know, prone to adopt new technologies, especially the young ones, will continue to do so. But none can take the glory of books. It will be there and it's glory will never fade away. :)

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