In Praise Of The Print Book

It seems that since the beginning of the print book, society has been predicting the end of the print book. Portending the end of the print book got louder with the advent of the computer, and it's only gotten louder with the ebook.

In fact, just the other day, I helped an older attorney find books, search in a database, print, and copy. When we were finished with all of those transactions, he asked, "what are you going to do when all of these books go away?" I replied with, "actually, only about 15% of the two million volumes available in print in law libraries are currently available in digital form. We have a long way to go before the books go away completely."

But it seems to be common public perception that we don't need books anymore. To which I ask, why does it have to be all or nothing? I am all for technological advances, but it doesn't mean that print has to go away.

There was an interesting essay on the InsideHigherEd blog about how MOOCs and books are alike. Here are a few snippets:
  • Books are mobile, ubiquitous and comprehensive. A student devoting the requisite time and attention to a book will acquire as complete an understanding of the course material as from a MOOC.
  • Students can, and have, mastered college courses studying alone from books, and the same will be true for MOOCs. More likely will be the use of MOOCs as supplementary and support material for a conventional course -- again, just like books.

I like MOOCs, and I like books. I do not understand why one must replace the other. I like to read from ebooks, and I like to read from print books. Again, I do not understand why one must replace the other. 

Print books still work, and they will always work. They aren't dependent on the grid, and they have proven longevity. We will not need new hardware or software to read print books. In my opinion, print books are still the most reliable form of information, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. So here's to the print book. May print continue a long and healthy life.


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