The slow death of the book may be with us.
That was an incredibly painful sentence to write. Most bibliophiles balk at
the merest hint that digital e-books could replace “real-books”. But
vinyl-lovers sneered at CDs. Those who lovingly categorised their CD
collections were seduced, in turn, by the iPod. The ancient poets who sung
of the wrath of Achilles from memory, like generations before them, were
doubtless indignant when some bright spark suggested writing the Iliad down
for the first time.
Much has been written about the tactile relationship that a reader has with a
book and how that will fend off the internet challenge. But the real saviour
of books has been their simplicity and their portability, as well as the
lack of a real alternative.
Readers will be as fickle as listeners when the alternatives are genuinely
enticing. How many hard-core bibliophiles sneak online to buy at Amazon,
despite pious words about the sanctity of bookshops?