Are Printed Books Still Relevant In A Digital Age?

In an age where information on almost any topic can be found in a matter of seconds by simply typing in a few keywords, we explore the relevance of printed books, if they are still needed when some are saying why bother with books.

Amid headlines announcing ‘Death to Print’ the rise of digital media was seen as an end to print, and indeed the emergence of blogs, digital magazines, newspapers, along with e-readers and other devices such as the Kindle and Nook that can store about thousand books at any one time seemed to indicate that this was the case. Unaware of how digital media would impact the industry, publishers were slow to react and for a while it seemed that indeed printed media would soon become irrelevant.

However, the impact of digital media has not been as great as initially predicted, and after a rapid rise in ebook sales print sales have begun to climb again, albeit slowly. Indicating that we are not quite ready to abandon print, choosing instead to embrace both depending on our requirements.

Printed books:
– transport us, connecting our senses in a way in way that is not truly possible with digital, from the the smell of of the pages, the rustling sound of pages turning, the touch and textures of covers, embossed, foiled or laminated hard or soft back, to the words and images jumping out at you from the page. And, art books -which Shoko Press specialises- are particularly difficult to translate into digital products, given their multi-purpose nature of being aspirational, informative and decorative, their value lying in the quality and use of the imagery gracing their pages, much like visiting a gallery. A beautifully illustrated art book on a coffee table or nightstand alludes to the owner’s tastes, their sophistication, and worldliness on display for guests to see.

– cut through the digital noise allowing our minds to focus more deeply on the information at hand. In a world where digital threads are picked up and abandoned at whim as we move on from one to the next, we are becoming easily distracted, overwhelmed by the choice on offer.

Digital books:
– make literature and other media accessible wider audiences. At Shoko Press we recognise this as an important factor for making more books available to African readers on a continent where printed books, it has to be said, are too often a luxury purchase.

– mean we can start reading right away, no more waiting for deliveries and doing away with shipping costs.

– do away with carrying around multiple volumes

Print is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and embracing the opportunities of both print and digital to connect with our readers we at Shoko Press look forward to bringing you beautiful books written and produced by African authors that will introduce some of Africa’s most inspiring creative talent.

And, whichever format you prefer, print or digital, one thing that can not be denied is the ability for books to immerse us in magical worlds, giving us time and space to fuel our imaginations, bring forth ideas and help make us better beings.

[Image credit: “Internet Library” by jscreationzs]

– Tapiwa Matsinde

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