The notion that physical books are ending their lifecycle is upsetting to people who hold them to be synonymous with literature and terrifying to those who make their living within the existing structures of publishing. As an editor and a lover of books, I sympathize. But why should a civilization that reads electronically be any less literate than one that harvests trees to do so? And why should a transition away from the printed page lessen our appreciation and love for printed books? Hardbacks these days are disposable vessels, printed on ever crappier paper with bindings that skew and crack. In a world where we do most of our serious reading on screens, books may again thrive as expressions of craft and design. Their decline as useful objects may allow them to flourish as design objects.
Outstanding article by Jacob Weisberg. A lot of people are freaking out about the Kindle due to a misguided idea that physical books are literature.
They aren’t. They are artifacts. Just because we have the Kindle doesn’t mean we are going to start burning our books. All it really means is that instead of having to keep a god damn wall covered with bookshelf after bookshelf of books that I bought and read once, I can keep a single bookshelf with the 50 or 100 books I own that I re-read every year or so, or books that have a sentimental value for me.