Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Physical Books Are Not Going to Be Gone in 5 Years

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop One Child, thinks that hard copy books will be gone in five years.

"[Books] will be [gone] in five years," said Negroponte. "The physical medium cannot be distributed to enough people. When you go to Africa, half a million people want books ... you can't send the physical thing."

Negroponte emphasized the efficiency of being able to put hundreds of books on the laptops his organization sends to villages. "We put 100 books on a laptop, but we also send 100 laptops. That village now has 10,000 books," he said.

Negroponte is right about the ease and importance of e-books in third world countries, but I think it's crazy to think that physical books won't be around in five years. For many people, myself included, the joy of books goes beyond their content. I like to touch them, smell them, see them on my bookshelves. I'm a huge tech geek and I like e-books, but I love my dead-tree versions and don't plan on ever parting with them.

This is not unique to me or to books. People listen to vinyl records still despite the prevalence of mp3 players. People enjoy driving old cars despite new ones that have power steering and anti-lock brakes. E-books may overtake their tangible counterparts in sales and importance, but they will never completely replace them.

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