I have thought a lot about the question of whether books can only exist in paper-printed media. This is an important question as Sara Lloyd reflects in "A book publisher's manifesto for the 21st century."
I've always felt a relationship with books - a connection that was real between me and the printed words on the paper. I have fond memories of going to the library as a child - I lived in a small town and didn't have to be taken by my parents. I found my own way there. The idea of writing my own book has been a deeply held goal of mine for many years.
This past Christmas I got my first e-reader and I am enjoying it,
despite the fact I really do enjoy the feel of a 'real' book in my
hands. My use of the adjective 'real' suggests the book isn't real if it
is on the e-reader - I'm not sure that is correct. I think the 'book'
can still exist online.
The idea that I could publish a book online without having to find a publisher to accept my effort is appealing, although I believe that publishers offer invaluable services like professional editors (every writer needs an editor) and marketing - services that many writer's are happy to accept.
Still, I am concerned about the idea of losing the printed version of the book. And here's why.
Books are a reflection of our society and our culture. They also are a record of our history. If we want to preserve that, if we want to leave a history of our time for future generations, I think it needs to be in print. Technology changes. What if the Dead Sea Scrolls were left on a Memex (Bush - As We May Think p. 44), imagining such a machine could be created in that time, would we be able to read them today?