Don't Mourn Paper Books Just Yet

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

A webcartoonist laments:

I’ve seen examples of the beautiful work being done in interactive ebooks for children. They depress me. Kids are in a world of their own and we seek ever more to make concrete things that would have lived in their imagination. Any graphic work is dead on screen compared to how it looks on paper.
This is the first time I’ve felt like this. I love digital media. They free us from clutter, from waste. But I don’t think we have to be beholden to gadget manufacturers on books. I don’t think we need to enter the dismal Kindle’s annual upgrade curve. Books aren’t a delivery medium, they’re an art form. We forget that at our peril.

The shift to eBooks seems to have created a stronger nostalgia factor than music or movies did. But then, CDs were never as emotive a medium as LPs were, and the combined efforts of tape, minidisc and CD pretty much prepared the ground for MP3s to take root. And those of us who remember buying TV shows and movies on VHS video cassettes will remember what a dire format that was.

Books, though, shouldn’t be entirely an either/or choice. I’m now buying the majority of my reading in digital form, but I still buy, love and enjoy owning well-priduced hardbacks. Digital should kill the paperback. I think great hardbacks, as objects we can enjoy intrinsically linked to their content, should have a great future.


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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.