Thinking about Craig Mod and the Death of the Print Book

Book lovers fear the end of the texture of paper, the sound of flipping pages, and the excitement of cracking open a new book. “It’s not going to be the same anymore” we pout. It’s true, but there are allowances of the electronic book that we should be excited about. Up until now, with Mod’s essay to thank, however, I have been too preoccupied with wallowing in my sorrows to notice them.

After reading his essays I want to explore the emerging technology of the digital book. Why is it taking over and why are we so afraid of it?

Digital media can enhance our reading experience: Mod specifically mentions image and layout as opportunities for change in “Hack the Cover”, but what about sound?┬áHow would you like to hear your favorite poet recite their lines as you read them? The Poetry Foundation website offers this to some extent, but only recordings of select works, not whole or even part of a collection.

Children’s books too could take a whole new turn, moving picture books (though not movies) and interactive media.

What about links to supplemental information and websites? Authors, publishing houses, and organizations could use their own works as marketing tools.

Yes, these innovations will change the way we read and the way we think about literature, but what is so wrong with that? According to Mod, Gutenberg did it too, and we have many thanks to give that man as book lovers. So why, do we reject this change?

Time. The electronic book is still an emergent media. It hasn’t entirely worked itself into our generation as something completely normal or useful. Maybe it will never gain full acceptance, but as Mod notes, the next generations of readers will grow up with it.

Of course, I still feel the end of the library, the librarian, and the book cover, but I now have cause to be optimistic or, at least curious.

And what will be the fate of the printed book, we wonder? Maybe it will eventually join the record album and the dead baby photo (just kidding) in the realm of the revitalized media that one might call cool.