Will the e books be the death of the printed book and will libraries survive?

Yesterday, for World Book Day, I was asked to comment on whether the e book will be the death of the printed book and the importance of reading and our libraries. I was happy to comment on both.  First up I was on the radio on BBC Radio Solent talking to the lovely Julian Clegg and then I appeared in an article in The News alongside fellow author, saga writer Dee Williams.

I believe the printed book will survive.  When television came along people said it would be the death of the radio and cinema and yet all three are still avidly listened to and watched today.  When computers came people said it would be the end of paper, yet computers have created an even greater need for paper.  Sales of e books will grow and then probably reach a plateau and contrary to belief it is not just the young who are buying e readers, but the majority of buyers of e readers are the 55 + age group.

However a survey carried out for World Book Day revealed both adults and teens preferred print books over news, magazines, blogs, comics and e-books and almost half of teens have read a book on a computer.

Reading habits will change but the key thing, as far as I'm concerned, is that we should encourage reading in whatever forms and whatever genres, because reading not only gives great pleasure to many people it can also provide comfort , knowledge, and escapism.  Reading helps to boost literacy and therefore self confidence,self esteem and job prospects.

Will libraries survive?  Well that's another matter, and the picture is particularly grim at the moment.  I sincerely hope they do survive because they form an essential role in our communities and provide a vital lifeline for many.  They too will evolve and change. Many are already doing this, as anyone who has visited a library recently will know.  Many libraries provide classes, meetings, refreshments, computers, reading groups, e books and so much more. They provide free access to thousands of books and research material.  I am indebted to a small library in Portsmouth, which opened up a whole new world to me as a child of adventure, imagination, and escapism, and I am positive that many libraries have done the same for thousands of children and people around the World.  Long may they do so.


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