For centuries before the steam-powered printing press, books were rare: to be scrounged for in small shops, bought used more often than not, each a treasure, and each treasured.
I don’t think most people [the ones who only buy one book a year] understand the bibliophile’s need for books, or the comfort of a personal library full of them.
Digital is fine. Ebooks can be exceptionally convenient. The ebook may eventually supplant certain types of cheap paperback; in fact is already doing so. I also hope the ease of ‘production’, ‘printing’, and distribution ushers in a new Age of Pulp.
(scifi is chugging along fine, but certain types of adventure & mystery stories could use a shot in the arm.)
However: there’s nothing like a book, a physical book in hand with some serious heft, to soothe one’s soul and decorate one’s house. And you can read them! Amazing things.
This is something basic I and many others understand. We were already buying books (much more than one a year) and after the general public’s fling with digital books: we’ll still be buying them. You can predict the death of the bookstore chains, and of the big publishers, and that’s fine. It may even be true. But even when the damn things were made by hand – there was an unquenchable demand for actual books that centuries of writing, printing, and constant reproduction of older titles did nothing to slake.
Books will be scrounged for in small shops, bought used more often than not: each a treasure, and each treasured.