Printed word not dying, just changing

I feel like I lost a part of myself recently. Something that I grew up with, that I cherished. A thing so dear to me th—ahaha, sorry, too melodramatic. Let me just cut to the chase.

I want to talk about two things: the fall of the printed word and the rise of the digital word.

Earlier this month, Amazon released sales figures showing—for the first time ever—books for the Kindle were outselling printed books. And this is only counting priced Kindle books, not magazines, newspapers or free books.

I’m not saying the printing industry is going down in flames like the 8-track industry (if you don’t know, imagine giant, unwindable cassettes, ‘70s music and horrible fashion) did, but it’s clear enough to me that things are changing.

I’ve been reading since I can remember. I love the feel of the cover, the smell of the pages, and my shelves overflow with books.

So, I thought I would take to the Kindle I got for Christmas like Michael Jordan took to baseball—flailing around awkwardly, giving up in shame and returning to what I knew.

By the second week, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.

And I’m not the only one, since recent surveys by Books and Consumers show that established readers are picking up eReaders like the Kindle more quickly than younger, less experienced readers.

What the Kindle, other eReaders and even tablets lack in the organic feeling I love, they make up for in convenience and affordability.

“Why is that?” you may ask. Well, it’s more likely “Why should I care?” I have  answers for both.

If you’re a college student, buying your textbooks in a digital format is almost guaranteed to be cheaper and easier to carry than printed textbooks.

If you’re a reader like me, you can carry around hundreds of books in a single device and access them at a moment’s notice without having a team of librarians and a wheelbarrow following you around.

If you don’t even like to read, you can still use most eReaders and tablets to browse the web, listen to music and watch videos, while books are made to be read and have little purpose besides that and unlocking secret passages.

I love books and newspapers. I think both will stay relevant because they are ingrained in our culture.

At the same time, I can see a day in my lifetime when the chance you’re reading this column in print will be low compared to you reading it digitally. A time where books are reserved for weirdoes like me and only the poorest of people.

Until then, I’ll balance both the book and the eReader and hope the future will see a happy medium between the two. Hopefully it will be something like radio and television, print and broadcast journalism, or even Felix and Oscar.

If you got that last one, congratulations. You have watched way too much TV Land.

To contact Jordan, call 256-765-4364 or you can follow him on Twitter at @BlackJackUNA.