The Future Of Books


Yesterday I put my entire CD collection on eBay. It’s not because I need the money, or I don’t like the bands anymore, I just don’t use em. All my music fits on my iPod. I use it with my headphones at work, I plug it into my car on the way home, and I doc it in my iStation in my apartment. I honestly can’t think of a single scenario where it’s been more convenient to use a CD. If there is something new I want to buy, I don’t even think about driving to a record store to make the purchase, I can do it all from my computer. It didn’t always use to be this way. There was a time, about 10 years ago to be exact, when I cherished my CD collection. I displayed them prominently in my room. Sometimes I displayed them in alphabetical order, sometime be genre, sometimes by release date. I’d spend hours reading the lyrics and looking at the artwork. I poured hundreds of dollars into these little trophies over the years, and now, together, they are listed on eBay for $55 with 0 bids.

Today, I look at my bookshelves, overflowing with books and wonder if the same thing will happen to them? In 5 years will they be worth nothing on eBay? Will there be a time when I prefer to read the written word on an iPod or a Kindle? There is a large part of me that says no, absolutely not. Books have been around for 100s of years and I can’t see them going out of style anytime soon. If you have a large number of CDs, DVDs, or records in your home you could be seen as a pack rack, or it could be looked at as clutter. If you have a large number of books lining your shelves at home, it’s not seen as clutter, it’s called “a library”, and it’s sophisticated. Place some books on your coffee table and your guests are entertained, put some in your bathroom and your husband is entertained, a book by your bed will settle your mind after a long day. iPods can’t be in all these places at once. Also, I get a certain satisfaction from holding a book in my hand as I read. I like the large pages and the ability to flip quickly between them.

That being said, I never imagined a day where I want to get rid of my entire CD collection. To get a different perspective I called my sister, Kristen. She’s one of those people that are always 5 years ahead of everyone else, like Japan. She’s the one that got me my first iPod, then my iTouch, and also these awesome headphones that block out all sound within a 5 mile radius. She has the Kindle. She likes it’s because the screen isn’t the standard LCD screen. She describes it as looking more like paper, and after a few minutes, she claims that you don’t even realize it’s not a book. She uses the Kindle in conjunction with the Kindle app on her iPhone. This is a free app that can be downloaded (no need to own a Kindle to get it) and it allows you to buy books directly from Amazon and put them on your Kindle and/or iPhone. And get this. If you begin a book on your iPhone, you can pick up your Kindle at a later time and start where you left off on your IPhone. It’s cyber magic. Books on average cost around 9.99, making them more affordable that buying most regular new releases. She likes reading on her iPhone at night because there is a back light that is great for night reading. If she reads a good book review, she doesn’t have to drive to the bookstore, she just orders it online. Instant gratification. So, I have to admit she has some good points. All that being said, Kristen doesn’t prefer these devices to actual books, although there are many scenarios where they are much for convenient.

So what do you think? Do books have a place in our future? Will Borders and Barnes and Noble meet a similar fate as Tower and Camelot Records? In years to come will books be looked upon as a huge inconvenience? Or, will they remain, as they have always been, a huge part of our culture that will always have a place on our shelf?

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  • Kristin Scott

    Great article…….it has the wheels a spinnin in my head! Only time will tell if books will have the same fate as CD’s??? I hope books don’t go completely digital.

  • Ruth

    Loved the article. I know what you mean about selling your CD collection. I got rid of most of my vinyl album collection last year. I really don’t listen to my CD’s as much as I once did. It’s just easier to listen to our XM Radio in the car. I can’t ever imagine selling all my books, perhaps thin them out from time to time. Books are magical. I hope they last.

  • amie

    Yes, books ARE magical. Well said.

  • David

    I have recently been given a Sony Digital Reader which stores thousands of book on and I have the convenience of downloading the book straight to the device. The truth is I have hardly even looked at it yet. I love books, I have an ever growing collection of them, that yes do take up a lot of space but one day maybe I will have a library room :-) I may give the Sony reader a try for a book or two and change my mind, I don’t know. At present I am old fashioned and like owning the book.

  • Sandie

    David – I can’t believe someone gave you a Sony Digital Reader and you’re not even gonna use it! Haha. I do agree with you that I like owning books, but at the same time I do see the advantages of having something like a Kindle, for example when you’re traveling. That way you don’t have to carry all that extra weight.

    I do think that books will become more and more of a rare thing to own, but I don’t think they will disappear completely. Because like Amie said they have been around for 100s of years. Although I am curious to see how everything evolves.