The Economist may have grazed but overlooked one influential factor in its analysis of why the future of books is secure. In “Not Bound By Anything” (March 22) the question of how the digitisation of books will impact how people read is explored.
Certainly, cost, search features, accessibility and link-ability are all factors acknowledged as being in the plus column for digital books. There are other human needs met by physical books that the article addresses such as portability (can be reach on beaches and in bathtubs), and most importantly, as it quotes blogger Seth Godin as saying, books are “souvenirs of the way we felt.”
I think that the tactile nature of books makes them souvenirs of emotion. Look at the designs and shapes of children’s books to judge the importance of the physical aspect of books. I have an old Bulfinch’ mythology with thin, crunchy paper that makes the book seem old and authentic. When we have a book in hand, we almost sense that we, by holding the book, are somehow owning the ideas inside.