Don’t Bother Me, Dude. I’m Reading a Book.

A big topic in our house is how long we think books are going to be around.

I’m not talking about those black & white pixel collections on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. I mean the old fashion p-books that we love holding in our hands. We’ve all grown up with them. Some of us have lived with them longer, and maybe that’s why we aren’t as quick to embrace the new technological ways. We still go to libraries (if we can find one that’s open) or we dig in our heels and order the paperback from Amazon. If we’re really lucky, we still live in a town that has a brick and mortar store where we can wander the aisles and get our high from new-book smells. Or run our fingers lovingly through crisp, new pages.

I know there are people who think that p-books will always be available. I’m not so sure. In my most cynical of moments, I think of the children to come – the ones who’ll use iPads in schools, and never know a textbook. I think of those children and their parents who have always relied on some type of screen – computer, phone, or tablet, and who have never understood the big fuss about paper pressed together between covers.

I don’t think they’ll miss p-books.

At bedtime, with their children close, they’ll touch screens, and pictures will move and come alive. Sounds will be heard, and music too – there will be movement and action, excitement not found on a paper page. Amazing and thrilling, the experience will capture their attention, but I’m not so sure it’ll catch their imagination. Or help them daydream, picturing in their minds what only words on a page can create: each picture, and every daydream unique to the reader or listener experiencing it.

Books of the same title may be filled with the same words, but each reader brings their own version of the story to it. The same characters are seen through different eyes, the drama, the comedy, the tears, the surprises, all the same and yet different as the story is filtered through the individual. The interpretations of each book, every story told, are limitless when read from the page. Touching, seeing, and hearing only confines the story to one telling of it. And where is the imagination in that?

What do you think? Will paper books always be around? Will they still have the power to pull people in? To make a reader want to hold onto them tightly, letting their own imagination take over, with no interruptions, and no one telling them what they should be experiencing?

Just when I start to think there’s no future for p-books, I find this video online today. And it gives me a little hope.

(Kudos to Julian Smith)