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Is the Print Book Destined to Become a Souvenir?

For many people the print book serves as a reminder — a souvenir — of the initial reading experience.

By Edward Nawotka

stack of six booksToday’s feature story looks at Book Slam’s experiments with publishing. The organization opted to produce their first work in several different formats, including a downloadable audiobook, an e-book, and a pricey hardcover. The hardcover is a limited edition, and serves as something of a “souvenir” of the Book Slam experience. Increasingly, as people move toward consuming books digitally, buying a physical copy of the same book seems redundant. What role does the physical copy have in the digital world? For some it does indeed serve as a physical reminder of the initial reading experience, but for others print is still the primary reading experience. Do they feel significantly different about the object? Philosophically, is there a good reason to keep a book around once you’ve read it, unless you plan to read it again? Are all books, once you’ve read them, essentially “souvenirs”?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Steven
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I think I prefer the terms ‘artifact’ or ‘collectible.’ There’s always going to be a strong market for collectors. That said, I think folks who print books will have to start thinking more creatively with the print model.

    I, for one, welcome the shift to a medium which doesn’t necessitate the destruction of forests. Now if we could just get on to the paperless office which we’ve been hearing about for decades.

  2. Lisa
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I think that destruction of forests should be the least of the items considered with discussing physical books. Trees are renewable resources, but most of the e-gadgets used to read books digitally are composed of many parts that are neither recyclable or renewable. What is the shelf life of an e-gadget these days? I have physical books that I read that are well over 100 years old. Will I still be able to use my Nook, phone, laptop, etc. in 100 years? Highly unlikely.

    While I do read many books digitally, I prefer reading paper produced books. I have my feet firmly planted in both worlds; I appreciate the convenience of the one while preferring the experience of the other.

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