Monday, September 19, 2011

Goodbye, Borders: Expansions in Digital Reading

Earlier this week, I ran into two interesting articles. The first, featured on CBCNews, dealt with a possible expansion of Amazon's current online book services to include Netflix-style book rentals for annual fees. The second was an NPR article detailing several reasons the Borders chain failed (as a bookstore fanatic, I'm still coming to terms with this).

Here are the links for both:

I found these articles thought-provoking because they both relate to the growth and development of the ereader industry, a topic that I often reflect on as a student, reader, and aspiring writer. There's a part of me that saw the collapse of my favorite bookstore and irrationally labeled digital reading as an evil trend that would eventually conquer books for good, forcing me to stare at bright, tiny screens for the rest of my life and never find joy in reading again. The other part of me, though, feels the strain of carrying my textbooks around campus and recognizes the practicality of ereaders.

I've seen avid readers swear that they would never pick up a Nook or a Kindle, only to find themselves fiddling with ereaders in bookstores or falling in love with one that they receive as a gift. In reading-intensive seminar courses, you're likely to see an equal division between digital media (laptops, ereaders, even smart phones) and physical textbooks.

This is the inevitable progression of the literary world; books, after all, couldn't remain immune to technological advancement forever. The ereader industry is a fascinating thing to follow. Libraries around the world are integrating online systems for ebooks, and an entire niche of the publishing world has opened up, offering writers the chance to publish work electronically that traditional publishing houses might have rejected.

I'm interested to hear what Honors students think about the subject. Are you a die-hard fan of digital reading? Do you think ereaders the downfall of literature? Feel free to share an opinion.