The Mermaid's Tale

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Are paper books obsolete?


are paper books obsolete?
True book lovers hoard their favorites for decades. Would the book have the same impact if you looked it up on an eReader? Maybe, maybe not, but there's something about reading the words from the same book for decades, something about the actual feel of the pages, that brings out a deeper emotion from within the soul of a book lover. It's difficult to believe that a house without books could ever really be a home.

In fact, a house in which there where there are no bookcases seems sterile. There is just something soothing to the human soul to see rows of books lining the walls of a house's rooms. Books make a house into a home.

Why paper books will never become obsolete

Obsolete technology

I remember when computers didn't have hard drives. Now we have gone from cassettes to 5 1/4" floppy disks, to 3 1/2" disks, to CDs and DVDs, and now USB storage and the Cloud. Technology changes faster than you can imagine. Would I want to keep my entire library in an electronic format that will be obsolete in a few years? I don't think so.

An eReader might be fine for reading mysteries, novels, or other books to read once, but what about books I might want to keep forever? If the technology changes, what happens to my library? How do I know that wouldn't happen to an electronic book library?

We don't need to worry about the books on shelves becoming suddenly unreadable. We don't need to recharge a book to turn the page.

Heirloom books for the next generation

Even more important than technology is sentimental value. Some family heirlooms are precious because of their monetary value: jewelry, furniture, the silverware. Keeping old photos within the family can be a duty as much as a pleasure.

Digging out an old book that you loved as a kid and reading it with your child for the first time almost always is a joy though, especially when the tale captures your child's imagination the same way your imagination was captivated years earlier. There is nothing like sharing the exact book you read as a child.

In addition, there is the time-honoured tradition of reading under the covers. One of the favorite memories of any book lover is sneaky reading after bedtime, curled up under the covers or next to a night light and squinting to make out the words of a favorite story or comic book. The easiest way for a parent to develop a child's love of anything is to say "no" at times, and "no book" makes the book all the more enticing to a young reader.

To engage in that secret pleasure there has to be reading materials available in the child's room, however. An electronic reader won't do simply because it's too easy to take away. (Been there, done that.) No parent is going to haul every book out of the room every night!


How do eBook readers work in the bathtub or hot tub? What happens if you drop one in the water? Wouldn't it get damaged?

It is difficult to envision another format as practical as a sturdy book which needs no batteries or recharging, nor will it be destroyed if dropped hard on a concrete floor or in the bathtub. You can take a book to the table without worrying about a spilled glass of milk or iced tea causing permanent destruction. Reading during dinner is another of those time-honoured traditions to carry on.

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