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Monday, May 7, 2012

Why There Will Always Be Books

Books basically fall into two categories—fiction and non-fiction.  Collections of essays, poetry, short stories, and photography fall under one of these broad sections as well.  Books, other than children’s books, which tend to be shorter, either as picture board books or chapter books, are  typically between 160-320 pages, usually around 200-240.  Fiction can be double that—even triple (or quadruple in some instances.)  But whatever the content, there will be books for years to come.  Why would I make such a bet?

1.      Historically, people like reading books.  For centuries, even when posed with other forms of information or entertainment, books were purchased and read.  Whether it was the creation of magazines and newspapers or the advent of movies, television and radio, people still bought books.  And when the Internet opened us up to a global world we still chose to buy books.

2.      Books are given to us at a very young age, before we are introduced to computers.  Children love to be read to, to flip the colorful pages, and to read to their parents.  As you get older you value books because they inform, inspire, enlighten, and educate us.

3.      Books are given as gifts and remain valued.

4.      Books, particularly fiction, provide an escape for the reader.  Books are long enough in length to tell a detailed story that can’t be found in other written forms.

5.      Books are affordable, in part, because prices are discounted heavily, both for e-books and printed books.  The used book market is also quite robust.

6.      Books serve as great conversation pieces.   I don’t know of any blogger clubs but there are tens of thousands of book clubs—perhaps millions—whose people gather to discuss a particular book that was read by the participants.

7.      Books legitimize those who write them.  They are living business cards.  People accept someone as some type of theory by virtue of being an author.

8.      Books represent a brand.  Who wrote a book is just as important as the contents.

9.      Books represent a collection of edited information that’s arranged in a practical and useful way.  People will even buy a book of one’s blog posts if they are arranged in a useful manner, especially if it is combined with fresh or revised content.

I have a deeper concern that printed books remain with us.  I know they kill trees and use gas to ship them but some of the paper gets recycled and there is a cost on the environment for all of the batteries, electricity, and hardware that goes into producing and maintaining e-readers.  A physical book in one’s hands is cuddlier than a plastic device that carries unwanted distractions with it.  Paper books get displayed in a bookcase; e-readers are covered up to look like a notebook.  I love the smell of a book and the ability to flip through the pages.  I grew up on paper books and will never leave them.  Hopefully they won’t leave me.    

But books, in whatever form, will always be with us, and by knowing that I feel a little richer.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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