The End of Print?

This morning I read the following:

“Encyclopedia Britannica says it will stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopedia.

The Chicago-based company announced on Tuesday that the encyclopedia would not be available in book form for the first time in 244 years. The company will continue to publish digital versions.”

For many of you, this will not come as a surprise. The demise of print has been long forecasted and Britannica is just one more example of the dominance of the digital format. I, for one, am not too thrilled about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the benefits that come from living in a digital world, but I also love books – hardcopy books. I love the feel of books. I love marking up books. Sometimes I even love the smell of books. But the distribution of books has changed. Whether it’s a good change is still up for debate.

Recently, my sister and brother-in-law gave us a gift card to a bookstore. Rather than buy regular books and incur the shipping costs, Steph and I thought – why not get an e-book and save the shipping costs? So that’s what we did and now we each have books on our computers. I guess you might call me a “late adapter” when it comes to technology, but it’s hard not to see the benefits of using digital e-readers. For one, it’s nice not having to cart around and store more books. It’s surprisingly easy to navigate and can be more accessible to you. But if the end of the print world ever happens, it will be a sad day for me. And while it doesn’t seem like the publishing world is slowing down, it has changed dramatically over the last decade. Witness the closing of bookstore giant Borders last year.

What does the future hold for print? I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you no matter how predominant and “reader-friendly” the e-readers become, I will always prefer the real thing to the digital version. Like anyone, I appreciate the benefits of digital technology, but if I had a copy of the same book on my computer and in print, you guessed it – I’m going to read the print version. You can call me old fashion – that’s just me.

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