Digital v. Print

MIT Technology Review Relaunches ‘Digital-First’ 113-year-old publication could create the road map for legacy media’s transition to digital

It’s a good article and it highlights something that is happening to more than just “legacy media.”

I own 19 bookshelves which are chock full of books, even after having given away 40 boxes of books in the last year. (Boxes which were also full, by the way. None of this lightweight boxing.) However, most of my new book purchases are digital purchases.

I don’t have more space in my home for more books and I don’t want to end up with a hoarding house of books collapsing and crushing me.

I read quickly. I read a lot. I need a lot of books. Yes, I know there is a library, but they don’t have a lot of books for fun. Books for work I almost always have to purchase in hardback. I have room in my office for another 100 books I think, before it, too, is full to capacity.

So I am thinking a lot more about digital these days. I’m creating an iBook anthology for my early British literature course. More and more classes will be offered online, even at my residential university.

There are some good things about going digital.

I can take 300 books on the plane and–once they let me turn it on–I can read whichever I want without having to carry an extra 150-300 pounds in my luggage–which definitely would not fit in the overhead bins!

If I finish a book, I have one with me that I can begin to read.

When I purchase a digital book off Amazon and try to purchase it again (because it has a new cover or I forgot I already bought it), Amazon tells me I own the book already., a great publisher’s website with amazingly good science fiction options–many of them free, lets me purchase and read books BEFORE they are published! I don’t have to wait for the whole year or two year cycle to publish in order to read my favorite authors’ works.

And I can read the pages without wearing my reading glasses, which the dog stepped on and now are very crooked.

But there are also some drawbacks, though fewer to date.

The tactile nature of digital is very different from print. I miss holding paper books in my hands.

Digital books don’t decorate the library walls. (Of course, mine are already full, so that’s not too bad.) One day all/most books will be digital and second hand bookstores will be antique stores for the curious and treasure seekers to haunt.

Some digital books have art which doesn’t fit the size of the screen I am reading on, so I have to move it around to see it.

I can’t photocopy a page out of the digital book to share with my students.

It’s harder to skim through a digital book, imho.

Overall though I think the handwriting is visible on the library walls: Print is on its way to being a medium for only a limited (or select) niche market. Digital is the wave of the present, carrying us to the shore of the future.

One thought on “Digital v. Print”

  1. I agree with you that print is (sadly, to a certain extent) on its way out. I like the feel of a real book over that of an e-reader, though sometimes the e-reader is more covenient. I will always have a subscription to my local newspaper, if only for the smell……;)

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