Ever since e-books arrived on the scene, business analysts and consultants have said year after year that it is only a matter of time before this electronic version of literature will replace one of the oldest support for writing and reading: paper books.
Passing from papyrus to pixels was a remarkable evolution that divided the public into two parts: the followers of digital format on the one hand and the “old-school” followers of the physical format on the other hand. The first category has argued over the years why technology is a friend rather than an enemy of printed books:
- Historically, books were a luxury item. In the 20th century, they became considerably cheaper, becoming accessible to the masses. The digital revolution of the 21st century has accelerated this effect: never has knowledge and writing been as easily accessible as today. This contributes to the democratization of the distribution and creation of information. Voices can be heard that maybe would have stayed hidden forever were it not for the internet. Thanks to technology, almost everyone can publish a book and find an audience.
- Technology offers the opportunity to preserve, transmit and develop ideas more efficiently than ever before. Historically, if one big library burned down for instance, this could mean priceless documents were lost forever. Today we can easily create many backups that are not that easily destroyed.
- The same technology that is making it easier for people to publish their own books, is also making it easier for them to explore new ways of sharing and discussing their ideas and beliefs. People from all corners of the world can debate ideas, philosophy, stories, sharing ideas and creating friendships.
Most people of the second category adhere to 2 essential elements of reading a paper book that will never be replaced by any technology: the sensory experience of reading a paper book and the reading habit.
Firstly, reading a paper book offers a particular sensory experience: the distinct smell of an old or new book, the weight of the object in your hand, the feeling of progress as you turn the pages, the emotional connection to the ‘realness’ of the support… Additionally, a paper book doesn’t need batteries or a charger, there is no great risk of theft, you can carry it anywhere without needing protection against damage, etc.
Secondly, the modeling of the reading habit mentioned above is the most obvious in a parent-child relationship. Parents who are avid readers themselves want to instill a love of reading in their own children. They love to snuggle up with their child to discover a story together. An e-reader simply cannot replace the emotional connection one develops with a beloved, often-read book.
We think there should not be any great divide between these two ways of reading. Each has their own value and advantages, and the two can strengthen each other. Our goal is to make digital and print go together in harmony and to use digital as an added value to our core business.
We do believe in the authenticity of children books in particular and we are education ambassadors through our work. To us, books will never get too old-fashioned or too boring, but that does not mean we should not take full advantage of new and enriching technologies.