Ever since the spectacular rise of eBooks, people have started to question the future of printed books. We’re living the “click era” where we have the world at our fingertips. Without a doubt, it’s awesome to be able to buy a book whenever we want wherever we are. But the ability to touch, hold and smell a book provide much more complex sensations than clicking on an eBook thumbnail. This is why we tend to value a book more highly when we have it physically in front of us. That said, here are my 5 reasons why printed books will never die:
1. Printed books are more than simple items
Printed books are complex by nature. They represent the all-inclusive of the publishing industry. Besides the actual content, they consist of smells and textures that are meant to enhance our reading experience. We cry with the characters and we hold the book to our chest. We fall in love with them and we feel the need to caress the pages. We laugh with them and we can smell the pages. It’s all about these details that make us appreciate a printed book more than an eBook. And these details can’t be replaced. In one of his TED Talks, Chip Kidd—the famous cover designer of Michael Crichton’s book, “Jurassic Park”—says it best: “Now, I am all for the iPad, but trust me, smelling it will get you nowhere.” Watch his video, it’s so informative and fun. He’s a genius!
2. Printed books are personal
There’s something fascinating about printed books. When we hold and read a book, a strong connection takes place. It becomes ours. It becomes us. We identify with it and it feels as if it was expressly written for us. When we read the printed version of a book, we submerge more readily into the story. After we finish it, we want the feeling of closeness to carry on. And so we go on buying another book, and another book, and another book… The truth is, printed books will never die because they offer an intimate connection avid readers crave for.
3. Printed books are inspirational
Printed books may be a tradition in the publishing industry but they surely don’t have to be outdated. They offer an incredible amount of room for creativity. Many designers and publishing houses race to come up with more and more imaginative book covers. They strive to break out of the box and erase the traditional lines of design and style. They aspire to surprise the readers. They aim to offer the public more and more astonishing and memorable physical reading experiences. Take a look at this inventive and original interpretation of a cookbook. It’s pure creativity!
4. Printed books are profitable
Book publishing is one of the most profitable industries. Wherever there’s a great book, there’s a lot of money involved. Usually, the financial success of a book is strongly related to the amount of print copies sold. On the other hand, the ugly truth is, because of the nature of the eBook industry, an author’s hard work may not sell at the customary price point, but may be offered for a much lower price—even for free. And honestly, a free eBook is not perceived as having the same value as a print book. Printed books are much more profitable than eBooks because people will pay more to get access to the physical sensations earlier discussed. Also, many people still like to purchase print books as gifts. The giver can write a dedication which makes them even more personal and special.
Each time you hold a book, you’re crossing a bridge between generations.
5. Printed books are a piece of history
Each book entering the public space becomes a piece of history. No matter the genre, a book is the mirror of a certain time and space. Collecting printed books provide witness to that physical proof. The act of collecting books is an indication of a desire to maintain and hold history. It’s a practice that goes way back to sometime around 200 BC. Even more, the value of a printed book can increase tremendously with time, especially when signed by the author. Printed books help build bridges between generations. So each time you hold a book, you’recrossing that bridge.
As with anything, there will always be fans and naysayers in the book industry too. Some readers will continue to buy print books while others will prefer to buy only eBooks. However, to say that printed books are on their way to extinction is an overstatement. We may not acknowledge the details, but trust me, it’s the complex physical experience that makes us appreciate printed books. And it’s an experience that can’t be replicated on mobile devices. At least not just yet…