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Does the book have a future?

With the increasing popularity of e-readers such as the Kindle and Nook, many people wonder if the print book has a future. Recently, Apple’s iPad was released; another device that can be used as an e-reader and Amazon claims to now sell more e-books than print books. Even libraries are beginning to advertise their e-book collections and promote this new technology.

So why are e-readers so popular? It is possible to store multiple books on an e-reader, e-books are cheaper to purchase, and they come with extra technological features. People can instantly download e-books from the comforts of their own home, which in today’s fast-paced world is a definite benefit. However, the book can do something e-books cannot. It doesn’t have to be plugged in to charge, it’s a physical object, and many people still enjoy holding an actual book while reading. Some people say books are easier to read because there is no backlight although proponents of e-readers claim that the display is very similar to an actual book.

The future of libraries, although not directly linked to the future of the book, will be greatly influenced by the book’s future. E-books already exist in libraries and many catalogs also link to Google Books, a site that allows partial access to many materials. Libraries will give patrons what they want and if the trend leans more toward e-books, than libraries must develop a larger digital collection. However, there are some that think the book will always have a future and that libraries will always provide access to them.

For more information on the future of the book, check out these resources at the library:
Cope, B. & Phillips, A. (2006). The future of the book in the digital age. Oxford: Chandos Pub.
Dewey Library: Z 278 F88X 2006

Epstein, J. (2001). Book business : publishing past, present, and future. New York: W.W. Norton.
Dewey Library: Z 280 E67 2001

Stoicheff, P. & Taylor, A. (2004). The future of the page. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Dewey Library: Z 116 A3 F88 2004

You can also contact our bibliographer for Information Studies, Deborah Bernnard. She can be reached by email at dbernnard@uamail.albany.edu, or by calling 442-3699.

What do you think? Will there someday be a world without books or will there be a mix of electronic and print materials? Leave your comments below!

Blog post created by Katie Farrell