Does The Kindle Spell The End For Books In Print?

A Kindle alongside some paper books

The first memories I have as a child are related to books: the first fairy tales book that my mother read me before going to sleep, the first Italian grammar, the beautiful illustrated version of the Odyssey by Homer received as Christmas present. I still remember my dream as a child  to have my own library that looks like the one there is in the magical castle of The Beauty and the Beast, and as Belle spend entire days immersed in reading old manuals, science fiction stories, and novels of impossible loves.

“Can you imagine a world without books in print?” someone asked to me few days ago. For me it is not only impossible; it’s scary. Books, inevitable traveling companions, sweet remedy in the sleepless nights, and favorite hobby of many people: behind every book there is the mind and the story of a man able to create imaginary worlds and engage entire generations on journeys beyond the reality we live. And paper has always been the select material to stop and preserve through time and space those rivers of words.

But in 2007, when Amazon launched the first version of its “Kindle”, the most famous e-books’ reader, the world was facing the beginning of a new era for reading. E-books’ readers have become increasingly popular, also with the help of  the continuous release in the market of new super technological models: from the basic Kindle to the Kindle Keyboard, then the Kindle Touch, to get to the last fancy Kindle Fire, which costs the double respect to the previous model. The Kindle’s generation is just one of the many families of ebooks’ readers on the market. The main competitor is probably the new iPad mini, Apple’s latest jewel, a real tablet that includes among other functionalities the application to read e-books whenever and wherever you want.

Are we assisting to the end of traditional reading? Will we have to say goodbye to books in print version to definitively convert to the e-books?

The convenience of having a single small device where you can read any number of literary works is undeniable. But books in print, in their old traditional format, have something that no electronic device will ever have: it’s the the feeling of stepping into a library, and start touching and flipping through pages of books at random, until coming across a book that for its color, or its scent, or the dedication of the author on the front page, attracts you so much that you cannot resist to buy it.

E-book readers are certainly an ingenious invention, and an innovative way to approach the reading even more lazy people. But I am pretty sure there will always be an indefinite number of incurable romantics who will prefer to leave the house, get in their favorite bookstore, and start to look for the next book in print to add to their library.

Luckily or not, I feel an incurable romantic! 🙂

What about you?