Books may seem outdated for some due to the power and reach of the internet. For others, however, the physical copy of a well thought out and organized collection of ideas is irreplaceable. Throughout history knowledge has been transferred through writing via books, scrolls or even paintings on cave walls. Has the internet made the traditional book obsolete though? Do we still need books if information can be found in abundance online? Here are a few reasons why I think we do.
Some people just prefer books than reading from screens. It may be more convenient or reduce eye strain. Books are also portable and do not need electricity or the internet to work. Traditionalists may also enjoy the experience of reading a book as opposed to being surrounded by electronic devices all the time. It provides a sort of escape from a constantly connected world.
The consistency of content
Once a book is published its content is finalized and the same content will be available in that book for years to come. Blog posts and articles online can be modified, taken offline or get hundreds of comments appended to the content that you are not interested in. There is obviously the argument that a book’s content can be outdated, but some of the most popular books, such as the Bible, have stood the test of time. Some types of books such as biographies or documentation of events do not suffer from obsolescence.
Not everyone is online
In developed countries with high internet penetration constant connectivity is taken for granted. Because you can access the internet at home, work or on your mobile does not mean everyone can do so. Not everyone has the ability to use the internet as an alternative to books. This may also become apparent if you have to travel and find it difficult to get an internet connection.
Books can have sentimental value
It is not uncommon for a reader to get attached to a book or for a book to be shared or even passed down from generation to generation. In these cases the value of the book is much more than its contents. The preservation, the memories associated with the book and even its look and feel can evoke emotions from the reader.
Books can also be distributed online
Books are no longer limited to a physical form. They can be released exclusively as electronic books (e-books), exclusively as physical books or in both paper and electronic form. This offers options to both publishers and consumers. E-books may mitigate many of the concerns people have with physical books as well. You can read them on your computer, tablet or mobile devices and do not need internet access once the book is downloaded. You can carry many books around in electronic form without having to worry about physical weight and other logistics.
I am by no means against finding information online and using electronic devices to read. In fact, I think this is a wonderful way to find and share information. The internet has exponentially increased our access to information and is an essential tool for many businesses. Books, however, should not be discredited simply because of new technology. The relationship between the internet and publishing only makes books that much better since more and more people can publish their own content.