The enormous success of e-readers has led some commentators to suggest that soon no print books will be published. This reminded me of the amended titular quote by Paul Delaroche who supposedly said in 1840 that “today painting is dead” upon seeing the Daguerreotype (the earliest form of photographic process). 170 years on and painting has not died, it is no longer as dominant an artistic medium as it once was but it’s still integral to artistic practice for students of the subject.
This analogy can be taken further. The reason painting has not died is because photography is not a like-for-like replacement. The same can be said of a Kindle compared to a print book. Even as colour screen e-readers become the norm they won’t replace a printed book. And it’s not because of some intangible, nostalgic reason it’s because a printed book fulfils a different objective to an e-reader. You can’t, for example, fill a bookcase with e-books. You can’t browse e-books in the same way as print books. I, as a Kindle owner and lover of print books find the general accession of information considerably easier via a bookshop or library shelf than a web page on Amazon.
And these few factors alone are why print books won’t die out.