The future of ebooks - is the printed word dead?

Ebooks have dramatically increased in popularity over the last several years, particularly with the development and mass marketing of ereading devices such as the Kindle by Amazon and the Nook by Barnes and Noble. As a result, many people have begun to wonder if the days of printed and bound books are coming to an end. It is a fair question to ask, as the rapid rise in popularity of ebooks and the technology that accompany them has been the most dramatic change in book technology since the advent of the internet, when books could be shared digitally en masse for the first time in human history. This article will discuss some of the possible directions in which ebooks and printed books might head in the future, while offering perspectives of the advantages and disadvantages of both mediums.

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Perhaps the most significant advantages ebooks provide over traditional books are those of portability and convenience. It is now possible to carry what amounts to an entire library of text with you wherever you are going without having to deal with the weight and bulk of regular printed books. Even if you aren't interested in carrying around the entire text contents of your local public library, you can still carry all of the information contained in your personal library, or in all the books you have ever read, or your favorite books with you wherever you go. It is a convenience that has never been available to human beings since the invention of the written word, and now it doesn't cost more than a few hundred dollars in a suitable ereader for anyone to take advantage of this technology.

As a result, the future of ebooks appears bright when one considers the demand people seem to have for the ability to carry their personal libraries with them wherever they go. If you want to have as many books on hand with you as possible, you will need to take advantage of ebooks and ereaders, and many people are clearly willing to do so. However, this doesn't at all mean that printed books are on their way out, as they also offer a few distinct advantages that ebooks will never be able to completely replace or match.

Perhaps the primary advantages traditional printed books provide over ebooks is their physical consistency. While data storage and retrieval procedures become more advanced with each passing year, in the end, you are still dealing with electrons and digital technology, and all digital technology has the potential to fail. It also requires some form of electricity to power it, whether through DC batteries and battery packs or through AC from power lines.

You will never need any electrical power to take advantage of a paperback or similar book printed on paper, which means you can read books printed hundreds of years ago without any additional technology than that necessary to read books printed a few minutes ago. When dealing with ebooks, you have constant issues of formatting, power, and compatibility to take into account, but none of these will ever be issues as long as you deal with the physical medium.

As a result, there is a kind of permanence available to physical printed books that will never be surpassed with digital ebooks. This doesn't mean that ebooks are useless or that they will never be as useful or as widespread as physical and traditional books, but it does mean that they will have a hard time completely replacing them as long as there is a need for text that can be read without the aid of technology. As long as you are reading in broad daylight, the only piece of technology you might need to read a book are a pair of glasses, presuming you had issues with near or far sightedness. As a result, both physical and ebooks will continue to be developed and published for decades to come.

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