[Somewhat more scholarly] Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get back into the thick of it. There's a great article that I've read a couple times now by John Donatich called 'Why Books Still Matter.' (Journal of Scholarly Publishing, July 2009, 329-342). It talks about statements like Jobs' about how technology will supplant books not just in terms of doing away with print, but also in getting rid of the paradigm of the book .Jobs' statement :
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.” ( John Markoff. 'The Passion of Steve Jobs.' new York Times :Bits. January 15, 2008.)
This is in reference to why Jobs thought things like the kindle and the nook would fail (look what's still thriving five years later, looks like Jobs may not have been such a 'visionary') He was saying that the book as an artifact, as a repository of knowledge, as a scholarly magnum opus was ultimately doomed. Donatich, on the otherhand, is a self-proclaimed bibliophile. Donatich parries this stab, basically saying that yes, indeed we do still need the book because it requires a higher standard of rigor than anything Jobs might be subtly suggesting- if indeed he was suggesting anything beyond whatever makes the most money.
Donatich quips: 'So it has really come to this: the day when the self-appointed experts who write books are finally taken down by the self-appointed experts who write blogs.' (331) Sarcasm aside, I think Donatich makes a great point here. He goes on ,' And whom should we trust: the career experts who write books and deliberate over their content while researching for years, or the temporary experts who form the chattering class of the blogosphere?' (331) I understand how my statement might appear confusing- arguing against the rigor of blogs on a blog, but I assure you I am simultaneously reading a book while doing so.
There are several great arguments about why books are important, but coming from a library student, I think the objectivity might be in question. I think it is more interesting to simply ask 'why'? Why are we arguing about whether or not people use books (or will use books), when people around us are using books almost constantly. I think maybe the people who tend to make arguments against books in general, probably wouldn't read much even lacking the technology Jobs champions. As far as transitioning to electronic media- ebooks, kindle, nook, tablet technology- I don't have a great many arguments against that. Old books will not go away quickly. I think the problem for many people who pay attention to trends in technology is that the means to preserve knowledge change so rapidly that it quickly becomes uncertain how proprietary media will be archived and preserved. This is the DRM problem all over again- when you buy a book- you own it. It's yours. When you buy an ebook- you own it as long as your license, and the platform have some form of support. After that, you're on your own. That's going to become the way of the future, and it places the context for access to knowledge squarely in the hands of people who are more interested in selling you iterations of the same thing over and over again than worrying about your right to access your own material culture.