Monday, April 15, 2013

Paper or Digital?

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...
English: A Picture of a eBook
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This question comes up quite often in the context of library services.  There are people who honestly question the relevance of an actual bricks and mortar library building with shelves full of books.  Aren't we moving toward digital copies and ebooks?

Of course, there are plenty of people, me included, who think that digital publishing is OK, but there is nothing like having a real, actual book in your hands. Maybe someday in the future, when this generation that has practically been born with a smart phone, tablet or iPad in their hands grows up, digital copies will be so prevalent that people will wonder why anybody ever bothered to take up so much shelf space with those old paper books.  Until then, I think there's still a place for real physical copies of books and magazines - alongside the digital copies.

The fun with the world of digital publishing is that the articles and stories and newsletters can be so much more than just words on a page.  They can include multimedia and hyperlinks for more information, allow for easy social media bookmarking and sharing, and so much more.  Not to mention that it's all so easy to take along anywhere - much easier than taking a pile of books or magazines.  Those of us who love to read understand the need to always have something with us that we can read - should we have a quiet moment.  Digital copies make it possible to always have not one book or magazine, but many.

That is a definite positive - not quite enough to convince me to switch completely to digital books, but a good reason to have at least a few ebooks of my own.  I could be more easily convinced to move to digital copies of magazines, though.  I like the extra interactivity and information that can be available - videos, links, songs, soundclips, etc. -  not to mention saving myself from those piles and piles of magazines that always seem to build up around here.  I think it would be easier to find the things I'm interested in with the digital copies and easier to share and save those things.  It seems like the possibilities are endless with magazines.  With books I just want to sit down and read them, no need for all those bells and whistles.

How about you - paper or digital?  Does it matter if we're talking about books or magazines?  Do you think there will come a time when all books and magazines only come in a digital format?
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