The Death of Books/Democracy??

Here's an excellent article titled " Where's the Bailout for Publishing?" c/o Library Juice.
The author argues books are essential to life, and democracy, and without them democracy, thus life, will die. Interesting. He's got a lot to say, as do the comments after the article.
Some excerpts:
"Books are essential to democracy. Not literacy, although literacy is important. Not reading, although reading is wonderful. But books themselves, the actual physical volumes on the shelves of libraries and stores and homes, send a message through their very existence. In a world in which most things seem ephemeral, books imply permanence: that there exist ideas and thoughts of sufficient weight that they are worth preserving in a physical form that is expensive to produce and takes up space. And a book, once out there, cannot be recalled. The author who changes his mind cannot just take down the page."
"Whatever we finally learn from the science, we can be certain of one thing: A screen is not the same as a page, and, as the migration continues, the experience of reading will itself be altered. We can anticipate a decline in reflection, in the willingness to work hard to understand a point of view, and, perhaps, the loss of the ability to appreciate the value of ideas."
It makes me sad when I hear about the terrible state of the publishing industry. It makes me sad when I hear people don't read. It makes me sad when I think about having to read the newspaper online. It makes me sad when I think about what my world would be like without a book in my hand, and a pile of 2reads on my floor.
But one can't deny, or stop the wave of technology currently washing over us. Are ebook readers the next best thing? Will all the publishers go under? Will books become extinct?
*sigh*
Who knows? I hope I'm not around when all that happens (though I think it might be coming sooner than we think). It's an issue to ponder though, maybe more so after the term is finished and my final project has been handed in...

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