Monday, 19 December 2011

Why All the Fuss About Books?

With Amazon pushing the Kindle and WH Smith pushing the Kobo in a battle for first place under the Christmas tree, a lot of people are asking what the big fuss about paperback books is. Surely people read for the content of the book, and therefore an ebook reader is a no-brainer? Why harp on about ebooks meaning the death of the printed book? So what?

Some people would be cynical and say that the big publishers are so tied into the print production business model that they can't exit gracefully and still protect their profits.

However, I have a different view to offer you that explains the reason behind our love affair with the printed book.

Consider what we had before the advent of the printing press: Nothing. There was no unified written language. Symbolic languages were the property of royalty and priests. Knowledge could only be passed down through word of mouth or the equivalent of cave paintings. People couldn't even do simple multiplication because there was no written language with which to effectively represent numbers.

The printing press was our very first attempt, as a society, to make language accessible to all. The printed book represents knowledge torn away from the select few and made available to the masses. The printed book represents freedom; not just freedom of knowledge but freedom of a society.

So you'll have to forgive our love of printed books, they have a very special place in our history.

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