Print is King

I have some information stored on 3.5-inch discs, but I can’t find a computer that still has a slot for these floppy discs. With my old phone, I had taken some cool photos, but I can’t retrieve them because I can’t find a fitting data-transfer cable. On my old laptop, there is a lot of valuable information, but I can’t get it to run.

expires faster than yoghurt

And then I have some books printed a hundred years ago and passed to me through the generations. I can read them without any problem.

Sometimes, technology is not bliss, but loss in the disguise of bliss.

When you buy an e-book or download books on your Kindle, I-Phone, I-Pad or any other e-reader, think about how quickly some data storage formats of the past decades disappeared. There is nothing to indicate that the current formats will stay around longer. You may be investing – not for the first time in your life – in something that will have lost all of its value in 2 or 3 years and that will end up in the bin or a box in the attic.

no updates necessary

With a printed book, that won’t happen. And you can even pass it on to your children. – That sounds like the real future to me.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Books, Economics, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Print is King

  1. bitdrain says:

    What about the feeling of having a book in your hands? Or just to walk through a bookshop and be lost in another different world…

    It is one of the pleasure of life…

  2. R.A. Evans writes... says:

    I grew up with a book in hand and can’t imagine a future without them. Yet, as an author, I sometimes worry that my own titles will not be in print – but merely compressed into a string of one’s and zero’s for e-book readers. I agree, technology is not always bliss – but sometimes it is a necessary evil.

  3. Peter Atkinson says:

    Interesting but a bit narrow-sighted; you conveniently ignore the advance of other technologies including broadband, wireless and portables that are driving acceptance of e-books. Just as buggy-whip makers didn’t disappear overnight with the invention of the Model T, the impact of e-books is only just being felt; growth last year was around 160% but they’re still only 10% of the publishing market. I hope that print won’t completely disappear – and I don’t believe that it will or that it should – but history tells us that it would be naive to so completely write off e-books.

  4. John Erickson says:

    Andreas, if you need those 3.5″ disks read, I have a couple of PCs (including the one I’m typing on right now) that can read them. Heck, I even have a couple of Apple IIe’s upstairs. I could probably even yank those materials off of your desktop’s hard drive.
    Part of my history obsession is keeping old “storage” technology. I have record players, 8-track tape players (not sure if those were as common on your side of the pond), I even have a handful of World War 2 field phones. I figure all this old stuff will come in handy someday. (And I inherited my father’s “pack rat” gene.)
    And I have books. No Kindle, no readers, just plain, old books. Yes, OLD books. Several from the 1800s, and dozens from the first two decades of the 1900s.
    (Yes, you’re right, I am a sick person!) ;)

  5. livininsanity says:

    I think this is a relevant post, that people should think about, especially regarding e-books. I can sympathize with your plight as I have had similar issues regarding retrieval of data. On a personal note, I often prefer editing manuscripts that are in hard copy form.
    P.S. I added your blog to my blog roll.

  6. Rae says:

    Thanks for dropping by my blog to leave a comment – I completely understand how you feel. That said, there are some advantages to the e-book that I also think make it more convenient to a wider audience than you might at first expect. However, I still like the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of the pages as they turn, and the sensation of reading the last page of a fantastic book.

    This was a good post; I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Dieter says:

    I have a book with hundreds of pages where a very smart sentence is written in. And I can’t find this sentence without reading it again from the first to the last page.

    Two of your problems could have been solved with a little bit self discipline (read out pictures from your phone every two weeks or so, copy your relevant 3,5 diskettes before switching to a computer without a 3,5″-drive). A laptop, especially a hard drive that is out of order is bad luck that can happen. But have you thought about a fire or a water leak that can ruin all your books? I think you have heard about the landslide that took down the archive of the city of Cologne.

    I hope I do not sound too aggressively, its not intended. But all technology has its downsides. And for e-books: Read the essay by Kathrin Passig called “Das Buch als Geldbäumchen”:
    I think she is totally right in describin the coming reality, and she has a lot of arguments for her point.


  8. Tjo, Dinge können so einfach erscheinen! Danke ;-)

  9. G says:

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I love reading and I’m for any means that get people to read, especially in the fast paced society that we live in. I’m old school with lots of books and running out of space. The e-books takes the worry out of space and I find I actually read more with the e-readers; a larger selection of all sorts of books are just a click away. I especially love the e-readers for the school kids; less weight and more information. Just G

  10. Robert says:

    Very true. I’ve thought about this. I’m sure there will be some way to transfer Kindle and iPad files to some other devices, but not many people do that. How many VHS tapes are sitting in attics still waiting to be transferred to DVDs? I just buy the book so I don’t have to worry about all of that.

  11. Roland says:

    Maybe you haven’t noticed, but Microsoft is pushing a new paradigm called cloud computing. Everything is stored in some data center accessible by Internet. My E-Mail is stored at an Exchange Server at a friends company, I can access it from my smartphone, Outlook on my laptop or any computer with a browser. I always say: If it’s not on the internet, i don’t want to know about it.

  12. Kate D. says:

    Good point. This is already very evident in the music industry: just think of how many versions of the White Album have been made, from vinyl to mp3. Still, the digital format is relatively easy to morph into a new format, so I’m not that worried.

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  14. Thanks for this. I try to avoid paying very much for electronic books, because I worry that I’ll lose them when the format becomes obsolete. I still read books in my library that I bought as cheap paperbacks in the 1970s.

  15. Ari T says:

    I think part of the issue is that the marginal cost of many e-books is rather high when marginal cost of information is practically zero.

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  17. Ivynettle says:

    That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like the idea of e-books, either.
    When I bought my last computer, I actually had a floppy disk drive installed so I could still access my old files… but by then, several of the disks wouldn’t work any more, and the stories saved on them are gone forever.

  18. You make a wonderful point. There is no experience like reading a good book. My shelves are filled with books. So filled, in fact, my wife and I have agreed to no more books. We hauled some of them to Half Priced Books to sell what we no longer needed. But guess what they told us. They considered them “outdated, worthless, not worth selling.” So, like technology, books do become outdated and no longer retrieved from the shelf or worth reading. eBooks allow me to travel with countless stories – 1 to 220; I can read all of them without paying excess airline baggage fees. I’m busy, so I don’t have to be on the couch to read – I can read in airports, in restaurants, on the subway – and I can carry as many with me as I want without dislocating my shoulder. eBooks are here to stay, a great avenue that appeals to all types of readers. People should embrace it – I’m sure millions of trees will.

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