It feels like everyone living on the planet Earth has an E-reader. Have a layover at any airport in the world and you will see dozens upon dozens of people sitting at a gate, their eyes glued to their E-reader as they enjoy the latest from George R.R. Martin or Malcolm Gladwell. Which is certainly not a bad thing. Anything that promotes the enjoyment of the written word is fantastic in my book. (See? See what I did there? Wit.) At this rate this feeling, real or not, that everyone reads off of a Kindle, Ipad or Nook (okay, maybe not Nook) will actually turn into a reality. At some point in the near future, print books will become obsolete.
And then they will become cherished like vinyl.
This is not some “in the future/crazy things will happen/just look at ‘Blade Runner’” theory. The more people respond to E-readers the more print will become less available and, thus, the more it will become beloved. When something is no longer made, it is missed. When it is missed it becomes cherished and when it becomes cherished the diehards will do anything they can to get their hands on it. Need proof? Two words: cassette tapes. Cassette tapes used to be a joke – now they are revered. And since albums are even more revered than cassettes it is only a matter of time that print books reach the same upper echelon of reverence.
Certain hardcovers are already being seen as special these days and it won’t be long before paperbacks are seen as the same. Remember when you ripped the cover of a paperback and you didn’t give a crap because it was, well, a paperback? Those days are numbered. Print books will become so valued that even a well worn, dog-eared (and for some reason highlighted) paperback of John Grisham’s Runaway Jury will have aficionados bidding on Ebay for it.
You know how Vinyl Heads wax poetic about the sound of the music on record? Print Heads (a term I just made up and am totally now copyrighting) will do the same about the actual smell of books. People will miss the odor a good book gives off because let’s face it; unless you are insane no one wants to smell an E-reader. Older, worn books will be valued higher due to their mustier, muskier smell because that scent will be on the verge of extinction. Instead of tasting parties, people will throw smelling parties where guests will sit around sniffing books. (No food will be allowed, as that will interfere with the olfactory experience.)
Used bookstores will no longer have that slapdash feel to it, with piles of books on the floor that you have to step over. Everything will be shelved, everything will have a plastic cover and the really “rare finds” – an early David Sedaris hardcover or a vintage Confederacy of Dunces – will be behind the counter. You will have to ask to see it and even then there will be a strictly enforced five-minute reading limit.
In fact, in the irony of all ironies, because of the proliferation of all these E-readers and because vinyl is becoming increasingly popular, print books will eventually surpass vinyl in the coolness factor. Hipsters will take a glance at your extensive and at one time well-received album collection and state with disdain, “You still collect vinyl? That is so 2014. I am strictly ‘bout print these days, bro.”
And of course, in this not too far away time there will be that one print book that everyone is looking for that is rumored to exist somewhere. The Holy Grail. The White Whale.
A pristine, bound galley of Confessions of a Guidette by Snooki…unread.