I find myself in a hotel in Kentucky for the first night of Spring break. In the lobby, along with several horse-related art works, some nicely-appointed leather chairs, and the obligatory bar/meeting space, are several shelves filled with books. It made for a nice visual, and I snapped a picture of a few shelves before inspecting some of the titles.
I happened upon one title from the publisher that I work for, dated from fifty years ago, and I considered all of the changes in the publishing industry since then. The rise of ereaders and the decline of the traditional bookstore are but two of the challenges that didn’t exist a half-century ago. The idea of putting words onto a page was taken for granted in 1963, but not anymore. Words on a screen have since come along, and things are changing as a result.
I spent a few moments paging through some of the titles, and appreciating the tactile sensation that a book can provide. Ereaders are wonderful things, but they’ll never be able to recreate that. Likewise, no electronic gadget could match the visual appeal of bound volumes sitting side-by-side on a shelf.
I’m no Luddite. I can see that the reading experience is evolving, but I’m also confident that books themselves will continue to be meaningful. To be honest, I can’t envision a world without them.