Saturday, August 06, 2011

Print Books Not Lost

Are print books fast going the way of the dinosaurs? Maybe. But not as fast as some think. Recently, someone said there would be no more books printed within a year. I’m not buying that, especially after reading an article in the NewsLeader about an annual Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.

The picture at the top of the article shows young people, (not ancient readers like me, she who speaks of learning to read via printed words on paper) pulling a page from a replica of Ben Franklin’s Common Press.

Rare Book School has amassed a collection of 80,000 items “that range from 7th-century papyrus fragments to manuscripts stored on Reagan-era floppy disks and unreadable on the modern computer.”

The school offers 25 weeklong courses each summer. And they’re not just for young people. According to the article, the latest class “included a bookshop owner from Washington state, an English graduate student from New Zealand, a historian for the Mormon Church, a school librarian from Long Beach, Calif., and collegiate librarians from Oxford and Yale.”

The course sounds interesting to me:
In class, students take turns operating wooden and iron printing presses and hanging pages to dry. Or they gather round ancient manuscripts for a closer look at this goatskin binding or that woodblock rendering.
How about you? Does it sound interesting? Does it make you want to write a book that a hundred years from now people will hold in their hands and turn the delicate pages in awe?

24 comments:

  1. I agree with you. Print books will not go the way of the dinosaurs, they can't. What would we read during take-off and landing while flying....I ask you!!!

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  2. I think there will always be print books. The most telling phrase, to me, was the Reagan-era floppy disks. Technology changes and the digital books might not easily follow. Remember Betamax? 8-tracks?
    I found it interesting that the show Firefly showed a wall of books in its lounge area, 500 years in the future. Sometimes people can't afford all the fancy technology.

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  3. I think there will be fewer books, but collections will stay with people for a long time. I know I'm not getting rid of all my hardback books.

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  4. That's not far from my in-laws - I should go to that one year. It sounds fascinating!

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  5. I would take that class.I love print books, even though the kindle has won my heart. They may be fewer in number, but they will always be treasured.

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  6. Print books won't go away. How many of us have really old books we treasure? However, I did read that in the next ten years, 80% of all print book business will be dead, and I can definitely see it happening. Independent bookstores that also offer used books (and diversify with other items) will do quite well in the coming years.

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  7. Helen, I was one of those who was convinced that print books will be gone, if not in a year, in five years at least. But, sometime over the last six months I've changed my mind - since I've put my book out in print, my launch campaign has taken off!

    I suggest now that eBooks will be for more "entertaining" reads - books that people will read on holiday and on the train to work or waiting at a doctor, while research books, and the "heavier" reads will still enjoy a paperback following. I know I'm finding , as in love with my kindle as I am, poetry and non-fiction research books I'm turning back to paperbooks, because the Kindle is difficult to make notes in - the keyboard is too small and locating a precise reference point is much easier flipping through a paper book. I'm sure these teething problems with eReaders will be eliminated, but I'm now leaning towards the side that says paperbacks will still have their place.

    Judy, South Africa

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  8. I think there is room for print and ebooks in the world. Some used to say that the radio would die when the TV came into play. That is not so. My grandchild will be sent books when it is born. My daughter is a huge book fan and my son-in-law works for a book distribution company. I think our family will keep the print book alive.

    I cannot imagine not bending a paperback into a comfy shape for my hands. Turning corners down and scribbling notes in the margin. I am not prepared to give them up!

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  9. Any development which takes the bookseller out of the returns and freight business is a good thing. Also, eBooks allow more writers to interact directly with readers without the mediation of agents and traditional publishing houses.

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  10. I am a firm believer in ebooks AND print versions. I, too, think that ebooks will gain even more of the book market and print books will decrease but they can happily co-exist because they fulfill different needs. I wrote a blog post on that topic a while back. If anybody is interested, here is the link:
    http://bit.ly/gRuKGk
    At the very end of the post, there is a link to a wonderful book binding/restauration service in Australia

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  11. I don't think books will ever go away and it's sad to think of them as only collectors' items. I do love old books and have a small shelf of some books I've been able to afford.

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  12. I don't think I'll take the course. But about printed books - - There is something about a book with pages you can hold in you hand when you are reading to a child. Somehow it sparks the imagination in the child the way a screen cannot.

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  13. I now have an eReader and thoroughly enjoy it. Haven't got it all figured out yet, though. I also still love my print books. I've run out of shelves to put them on. So it may be that I will become one who buys print books I want to get autographed or have a reason to want to keep it on my shelves. But for ones I just want to read, I'll get in e-form. I don't know that for sure, though, since I've only read one book on my eReader so far.

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  14. I think in time print books will be collectors items, a niche market, but it won't happen for a while. I'm betting print book sales will steadily decline over the coming years. I think there's an untapped market for ebooks in places like India and the Middle East. Cultures on the cusp of social reform will devour new technology. I'd like to have a library of print books for the feeling they give me, but I don't believe my children will be as attached.

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  15. I'm a bibliophile with literally more than 5,000 print books that I can't imagine parting with. I still have dog-eared books from my childhood. I love my Kindle but it takes a back seat to my hardcover cover editions.

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  16. I doubt if print books will go completely away - they've been an institution for too long. Although I think they'll change, somehow, to adapt to new technology and needs. For example, perhaps there will be a cheaper, or more eco-friendly, way to produce them. Or they'll all become print-on-demand, where each bookstore has a machine that spits them out when you come in and order them. Or they may become more objets d'art - a woman I know says she reads a lot of books on her Kindle, but she COLLECTS physical copies of books that are also visually appealing.

    As children, we are introduced to books in tactile ways - remember our cloth books we chewed on and treated like toys? Then we have the books with popups and velvety inserts to pet the bunny, etc. No matter how techie we get as readers, I don't know how we replace those experiences for kids. So I think we'll always have that occasional yen to hold a book in our hands and turn the pages, even if it's nostalgic.

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  17. I don't believe print books will vanish that quickly, either. I don't think they'll ever completely vanish.

    I would love to make print books, especially of my short stories. I know someone who made a gorgeous book out of one of her stories, though unfortunately she put it on display at a writing event and somebody walked off with it. Doh! That must have been terribly frustrating.

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  18. I have a Kindle for holidays, but it will never be the same as a printed book. Thank goodness as I'm still writing and publishing them.

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  19. Technology is changing rapidly, but I think print will be around in some form or another for a few more years yet!

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  20. print will not leave us and I do think there's hope for today's youth. Everything old is new again and new technology does serve a purpose. I'm keeping the faith. Thanks for the post.

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  21. I find it difficult to even imagine a world without print books. But I know it's a possibility. Things or ways of doing things from our great-grandparent's day are gone now. But I imagine they never envisioned a world without them. If print books do disappear, I don't think it'll be in my lifetime.

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  22. I don't think print books will die. There are enough spaces for both formats.

    Chemical Fusion

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  23. Hi Helen .. that sounds a fun course .. I'd love to be a part of it .. but books they're not going away yet ..

    Too many around and too many uses .. make notes in the margins etc ..

    Cheers Hilary

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