Is Paper for Communicating on the Way Out?

It is obvious to me that paper used for communicating is on the way out, but not everyone agrees.

Bobbi Newman, Digital Branch Manager, Chattahoochee Valley Libraries

  Bobbi L. Newman, Digital Branch Manager of Chattahoochee Valley Libraries, is one of those who doesn’t.  Though her job is to provide digital services for the library system, she doesn’t think e-books will edge out paper as the primary medium for storing and disseminating knowledge. 

She does admit, though, that “we will see more of it, but still there are a lot of problems with e-books. For one thing, you can’t pick up an e-book, read it and give it to the Friends of the Library bookstore, or pass it along to someone else.”  Toward the end of our conversation she did say that no one really knows how the media model will change in the future.

Are these on the way out?

While the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries system has about 220 computers for public use, including some laptops, there are no e-readers available. 

Amazon's Kindle e-reader

The library only has two each of Amazon’s Kindle,    Sony’s Reader, AT&T’s Netbook (which is really a small laptop computer), and Apple’s iTouch. Apple’s  iPad, the reader that some call a big iPhone (it’s not, because it won’t be a phone), is not available yet, and Newman isn’t sure about buying even a couple of them because of the library’s budget crunch.  None of the readers they do have is in circulation. It hasn’t been decided yet on how they will be used.

Now, as far as being able to check-out a digital book for your own computer or e-reader, you definitely can.  Over 3,000 titles are available for you to download.  She says about 20 a day are checked out.   These include all types of books, including some new novels. For instance, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is available online. To learn how to download online books just go to this website and watch the video.

What if the library had thousands of e-readers to loan to patrons?  Would that cause a big shift to e-books? My guess is it would, but that’s just my guess. Sure, people over age 40 resist giving up paper books. They are conditioned to paper books.  They don’t want to read books from a computer screen.  That includes me.  However, it seems to me that young folks have less of a problem reading from computer screens. Besides, the new e-reader screens look more like paper. You don’t get the computer screen backlit effect. Also, you can “turn the pages” by moving a finger across the screen.

Offices are going paperless more and more.  Magazines and newspapers are going paperless more and more. It’s happening.  There will probably always be a niche for paper, but it will grow smaller and smaller, I believe.  I know this has to be unnerving for those who manufacture and sell paper, but change is an inevitable part of life.  There will still be plenty of uses for paper. I don’t forsee anything electronic replacing toilet paper for instance.  And neccessity may inspire paper manufacturers to find new ways of using paper.

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One Response to “Is Paper for Communicating on the Way Out?”

  1. Dick McMichael Says:

    M.J. emailed this comment to me and I am sharing it with you:

    “Yeah, and I expect somebody said they could not see paper replacing corn cobs, either.”

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