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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Columns

E-books don’t replace the real thing


Citing “other avenues” as the cause, Barnes & Noble has begun talks to cleanse its hands of its e-reader, the Nook.

Inconsequential in the long run, the discontinuation of the Nook from the B&N arsonal was loud enough to reevaluate the allure of the Nook’s physical counterpart, the hardcover book.

Despite threats, attempts at derailing and false alarms, bound books have managed to outlive not only those who have decreed them as obsolete, but their very contenders as well.

It would be safe to call them the ‘winning-est’ pieces of media in human history. Very much like zombies or an allegorical Jesus Christ, the physical book has defied its projected “outdated-ness” more than once.

Though one would think that history has made a case for the physical book’s timeliness, it hasn’t.

Scoping the outcome of the e-book-versus-physical book war from a distance, it looks like they’ve negotiated a cease-fire. At first glance, Barnes & Noble’s retraction appears to be the work of its primary competitor’s product, the Kindle.

A second look, however, it seems as though the battle began much earlier than that, predating the births of even the product’s own founders.

They’ve been at it since the third century. Groups have always acted with the intent of ridding society of words and pictures on paper. “Curious George” and “The Little Prince” have outlived dictators, conquerors and fascist revolutionaries alike.

How bringing literature to a more digital output can qualify as being more perilous to the nature of printed word than armies, dictators and god-figures bent on their destruction is a mystery.

The predominant reason the book won’t die is simple: Their accessibility. senior citizens read books. Toddlers read books. College professors and their overpaying students read books.

For every step we take to a paperless society, we waddle 12 paces to the paperback counterpart, packed tightly in between fading hard covers and out-pressed first editions.

Between used book shops, two-for-one sales and high school literature courses, the exposure offered by print media would be replaced only by a mass effort brought upon by corporate television.

It’s unlikely we’ll find ESPN making massive contributions to the business of keeping books in print.

When you add the individuals who make it their life’s work to keep physical books in motion, you open a completely different can of worms. The entities’ influence alone is sufficient. but when combined with the aid and influence of supporters from every walk of life, it is daunting.

Despite the appeal of having 2,400 pieces of literature between your fingertips, it simply can’t replace the joy of flipping the actual pages.

Without any certainties, it’s safe to assume that print media is going nowhere anytime soon.

Bryan Washington is a sociology freshman and may be reached at [email protected]

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