Are printed books an endangered species?
We often read stories to the effect that printed books are an endangered species, and will soon become extinct.
But according to this article, that is very far from the truth — Data Point: People Still Like to Read a Good (Printed) Book – Digits – WSJ:
Given the news coverage, you’d think the conversion at last of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” into lines of ones and zeroes was some kind of nail in the coffin for the printed word. One of the last holdouts finally turned.
Not quite. Of the people in the U.S. who use the Internet, 46% say they still only read books that are printed, according to data from Harris Interactive that was charted by Statista. Another 16% say they read more printed books than e-books.
I only once read an e-book all the way through.
It was just before Western Hallowe’en a couple of years ago, and the people on the Coinherence-l mailing list for discussing the works of Charles Williams naturally started to talk about Williams’s novel All Hallows Eve.
I don’t have a copy — it’s out of print — and it would be too much schlepp to get in the car and drive 10 km to get a copy from the university library, so I downloaded one from Project Gutenberg and read it on screen. I like having copies of favourite books in electronic format, preferably Ascii, for purposes of quoting and reference, but not for reading.
Why bother having a copy on your own computer when you can look up any book, including obscure ones, on Google Books?
But Google Books is a snare and a delusion. You can’t copy a paragraph or even a couple of sentences for quoting, and if you cite the URL where you found it, other people more often than not can’t find it. Google Books has much promise, poor performance. Project Gutenberg beats it hands-down.
It’s not just fiction, but software manuals too.
One of the reasons I still use MS Word 97 rather than the latest version is that I got a book on it, which I read in the bath, and so learnt to use it. I’ve never seen a hardcopy book on LibreOffice, and so I’ve never used it much. I had Evernote on my computer for some years, but never really used it until I found a hardcopy book on a sale that told me how to use it. If I’d found a similar book on Microsoft’s OneNote I might have preferred that, but I didn’t, so I’ve stuck with Evernote.
 All Hallows Eve may have been reprinted, but I haven’t seen a copy on sale in any bookshop in South Africa since the 1960s. And even back then the only place you could buy them was in the old Vanguard Bookshop in Johannesburg, which vanished long ago.