Over at the Guardian, Jeff Jarvis is contemplating the limited lifespan of the book in his article Books will disappear. Print is where words go to die. [Link via BookNinja]
The article gives a nice 50,000-foot view of the situation between the capabilities and pressure of The Digital Age vs. the limited vision of The Old Ways:
…[E]fforts to update the book are hampered because, culturally, we give extreme reverence to the form for the form’s sake. We hold books holy: children are taught there is no better use of time than reading a book. Academics perish if they do not publish. We tolerate censors regulating and snipping television but would never allow them to black out books. We even ignore the undeniable truth that too many books, and far too many bestsellers, are pap or crap. All this might seem to be the medium’s greatest advantage: respect. But that is what is holding books back from the progress that could save and spread the gospel of the written word.
This is an interesting observation: Respect for books – the very thing we have been taught and try to teach others – is what’s hindering its evolution. I’ll have to give that chewy morsel some more thought. At least Jeff agrees that there is value in holding a fiction book: “fiction, especially, is best delivered one-way and on portable paper.” That gives me something to hold onto before books go the way of the 8-Track tape.
I still wonder, though, is this an insightful prognostication, or just malarky?