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Why the iPad and Kindle Will Not Be The End of Books

Sure they’re nice. Sweet technology, doing cool things. They figured out the eye-strain issue with Kindle and that will be reflected in the iPad. The pundits are decrying the end of book publishing as we know it. They holler “stop and shutter ye olde printing press.” They missed something. Something very important.

The book is an “experience good” I’m not talking good as in nice, I’m talking “good” as in a product.

We “experience” books. They can be part of a meme, a collection of experiences such as tastes, smells, places where they are read and enjoyed.

What the iPad and Kindle will never ever be able to do:

– Never run out of battery power
– Be readable anywhere, anytime (provided sufficient moon or sunlight)
– Not crash when you spill a wee bit of hot tea on it curled up on the sofa
– Gain that aged smell that says “fine old book”
– Be instantly “off” and instantly “on” when you want it to
– Hold memories of childhood and times in our lives
– Become shared and dog eared amongst family and friends
– Get destroyed in a hard drive crash
– Be always there for many, many more years than an iPad or Kindle etc.
– Easily taken on a camping trip and never running out of charge
– Be a lame brand name (a book will always be a book)
– You can’t toss a Kindle at someone driving you nuts across the room
– The sheer delight of wandering through new and used book stores and discovering
– The wonder of children’s eyes as each page is turned and they sit for hours engrossed
– Stumbling into your soul mate in the cooking section of the bookstore

Yes, there’s a market and a place for these devices. But I suspect though books may be printed less, it will be many many decades before the press will die and bookstores will cease to hold the charm they do today.

What other things can you do with a book to have an experience, that you can’t with a Kindle or iPad or similar?

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