As we now have the choice between paper books in physical formats, digital e-books and audiobooks, which format makes sense? To me, they are not equal.
The creative folks at Ikea are branding their new “bookbook” as a semi-serious ad about paper format. Let’s start foolish:
We’ve got a relationship with a physical format that we can hold, touch, smell, and that takes the impact of years being bent, beat up or stained. I still have a library in my office with a few hundred books in it. It is quite heavy and difficult to move. Whenever I repaint the walls or change the location of this library, it takes physical effort and time to remove all the books, de-dust them and the shelves they are on, move the furniture to the new location, then reload everything. These books are part of my past, a part of who I am. Like music albums, I remember when I bought them, how they came into my life, something that may not be so obvious with digital books.
Digital is mostly an access right to content, electronically delivered through a display to read, or speakers to listen to. Despite their impersonal and robotic nature, ebooks are the future. They cost less, pollute less, have richer bookmarks, notation, take no space, and never get lost. There are so many advantages to digital books, and now you can even make audio books, narrated especially for the purpose of the work, as opposed to auto-generated by text to speech functions.