In our fast-paced digital age, a good old paper book seems almost vintage. At first glance, a handheld electronic tablet with a thousand masterpieces of world literature outperforms a bulky bookcase that can hold a hundred or two volumes. But the question is worth taking a closer look at.
It should start with the fact that a person began to record information for posterity a long time ago, and this process has been constantly improved. From rock paintings, figurines made of bone and clay - to clay tablets and writing. Then scrolls, inscriptions carved into stones, fabric canvases with text, the first parchment, paper, punched cards and magnetic tape, floppy disk, disk, usb-drive, cloud storage … Moreover, the last four types of information carriers appeared in less than thirty years!
Meanwhile, we still meet "rock painting" in the stone jungle. We carve inscriptions in stone, create tablets with information. Yes, the transmitted information has changed - the memorial plaque on the hero's house differs from the clay tablet with the code of laws of the ancient tribe - but the principle has been preserved. In the same way, the function of the book as the most accessible, convenient and widespread format for storing information is gradually disappearing - and will inevitably disappear. Digital media are flexible, mobile, and easy to organize. But the book itself will not disappear anywhere: it will have other functions.
About the reader
An important nuance, which is forgotten in debates about the preservation of the book, is the reader himself. Pay attention to libraries: in large cities, where the size of the fund and the number of readers are sufficient, separate children's libraries, scientific, public, libraries for the blind are created. This suggests that different readers need fundamentally different literature.
Try comparing a translator who chooses an electronic dictionary because it is really more convenient to use, and a schoolchildren who has to choose between a voluminous, color paper edition of Robinson Crusoe - with glossy illustrations, movable inserts, with the delicious smell of real paper - and an electronic reader, in which you cannot see the pictures, do not touch the cover.
Technical literature requires a convenient format, ease of access, a book search engine - everything that is implemented on digital media is an order of magnitude better than in a paper book. But fiction is always an impression, an atmosphere, an almost mental contact between the book and the reader.
What librarians think
Libraries are hastily being digitized these days. This makes available many publications that previously could not be given to the average reader because of their cost, rarity or poor condition. On the other hand, paper books must be kept in at least one copy, because in the most modern storage conditions, a paper book is afraid only of fire, and hundreds of years of aging, while the vulnerabilities of digital media are still being studied.
The paper book, of course, is losing its relevance as a format for reference, educational and scientific literature, but it remains a good gift, a faithful companion in the absence of electricity and just a luxury item when it comes to an expensive or rare edition.