Are Physical Books Becoming a Thing of the Past?


Lots and lots of books

For the past two years, the sales of physical books have been declining. More and more readers are switching to reading on a mobile device rather than physical books. Many find it more convenient to read in digital reading formats on their devices because they are less expensive and easy to access. This reality raises not just the question of if physical books are going to become a thing of the past but also the question of when physical books will become a thing of the past.

In a survey by Pew Research, half of the adults in America own a tablet or e-reader that can access digital reading formats. Even though printed books are the most popular means of reading, e-books have made an effort to catch up. Although there will be a significant reduction in physical books, technology can’t fully replace books. Also, the universe is going entirely digital, with everyone now using technology to complete their everyday tasks. 

According to Statista, the ebook industry makes a total of 1.1 billion in sales every year. Ebooks are more accessible to people because they are more widely distributed than physical books. It’s even possible to find free PDF versions of books online. In addition, due to the rising cost of material resources required to produce a book and pay for royalties, transit expenses, and return shipping, physical books are becoming more expensive. These elements, when added together, have a substantial impact on the cost of books daily.

Books, however, won’t entirely disappear anytime soon. Like woodblock printing, hand-processed film, and folk weaving, printed pages can have artisanal or artistic value. Even though more people switch to reading on devices, electronic reading may hurt how the brain processes text. According to Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University in Massachusetts, and others’ studies, electronic reading hurts how the brain responds to text, including reading comprehension, focus, and the capacity to keep attention on elements such as narrative and sequence of events. According to research, paper is at one extreme of the reading spectrum, which is the most immersive, while internet text is at the other, which is the most distracting, so readers should consider whether or not they should switch.

To conclude, books may become a thing of the past in the next couple of years, and there will be a lot more use for ebooks than physical books. However, they can’t fully disappear because there will still be a need for printed books in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.