Upon watching the latest episode of BBC’s ‘Click’ (12/03/2011)
[A technology show informing of the latest tech news]
I felt inspired to express my ponderings on the future of the way we digest print media.
There appears to be a very clear cut divide between people that advocate eBooks and those that prefer the physical book… or at least that’s what the media portrays the situation to be.
I myself feel that the two methods mentioned each have their weakness’ and benefits and as a result both equally co-exist within my lifestyle.
If I need to reference something frequently I will opt for a physical book (almost always loaned from a library) that I can keep close to hand.
If I’m reading for pleasure I will use my iPhone (usually in bed or in a bath… not wise, I know!).
When I read for pleasure its on average for about 20 – 30 minutes and at the end of my reading session I require a bookmark (something that I seem to always loose when reading physical books, yet digitally I can have 100s of bookmarks if I so choose).
If I was to constantly need to reference something on my iPhone, the process of unlocking my device, navigating to the app then loading it.. would become a weary process. And that’s if I don’t have any received text messages or notifications to distract me from the initial purpose of picking up my iPhone to begin with. (I’m aware dedicated eBook readers would not have this distraction, but I feel my point still remains.)
While it would be possible for me to banish one of the methods of consumption from my life, it would not be an easy choice… or in fact a logical one, since personally for me they fulfil different roles.
Very rarely does a new technology completely replace an older alternative, but rather it augments it.
Just as the theatre didn’t get replaced by cinemas.
Or even [slightly random example] eye glasses being replaced by contact lens’.
Due to each individual approach having their own unique quirks and differences, they remain prevalent within society attending to each users wants and needs.
Not to say that, that is always the way; for example VHS, Floppy Disks etc…
When a certain media becomes obsolete within society it’s generally not missed. While reflecting back you might have happy nostalgic thoughts of simpler times, like sitting with your finger on the record button of your cassette player waiting for ‘that one song’ to come on the radio. But in reality, it’s undoubtably inferior to todays methods where songs have been made more accessible thanks to the rapid evolution of storage and continually more efficient distribution methods.
This also raises the fundamental issue when tackling the plight of the modern library. How are local library’s to compete with such established and efficient methods of distributing eBooks or Audio Books in the modern market?
My answer to this question is to not directly compete.
Referring to my previous example regarding theatres and cinemas, each cater to a different audience and offer almost opposites in regards to content, yet both would reside under a similar category.
I should mention that I’m by no means an expert in any field, but I would imagine that after the conception of the cinema, theatre owners must have had at least a slight concern for their own industries future.
I feel this is somewhat analogous to the Library and eBook situation.
While there is initial concern, Libraries will still endure the modernisation that their industry is going through, but will have to adapt cleverly to the changing battlefield… erm I mean market.
One approach I feel Libraries could thrive on would be generating a greater social atmosphere and sense of community.
As each generation goes by I feel there is a distinct lack of community in todays society, I would also include myself in this generalisation (bare with me here…)
Speaking on behalf of myself, I am an Atheist who was once a Catholic.
I often find myself envious of the sense of community and belonging that my religious friends have. I feel this is something that should not be linked directly with religion and available to all (outside of a religious setting), so I purpose that libraries fulfil the role of a church within the community.
I feel this would provide a healthy environment to share knowledge and meet other learned people, a prospect that eBook distributors could only dream of achieving.