The printed word is dead?

I don’t think so.

With the Kindle coming out this week (see here and here for GeekBrief coverage and here is one of several posts at TechCrunch), I’ve been musing about, naturally, physical books being replaced by technological gadgets — or at least something not printed. Side note: What would that do to libraries?

And today there’s yet another bit of news about newspaper print ad revenue going down, down, down and not being replaced (entirely) by online ad revenue.

I’ve written here before about the necessity for newspapers to change their content delivery, to make themselves available to online users, and also about how I’ve begun finding my news online.

The above-linked piece on ad revenue more than hints that the printed word is dead, or at least dying. I don’t agree with that.

First of all, Kindle (and its predecessors) still has a long ways to go before they seriously take a chunk out of the book market. Reviewers unanimously comment on the ugliness of this device, and the $400 price tag is a huge hurdle. Even after a person takes that step, he or she must still pay $10 or so for each book. The books aren’t transferable to or from the device. As much as I’m a voracious reader, I don’t buy most of the books I read; I get them from the library or borrow them from friends. I’m also skeptical (although the Kindle’s Amazon-ness may remedy this) about the availability of the tomes I want to read via such media. This is also the problem, for me, with things such as PaperbackSwap and BookMooch.

OK, back to newspapers. It’s particularly true of newspapers in large markets: Other forms of media are taking the place of print news. We can get national (and most international) news anywhere. Local, hometown news is a different story. I can’t get the news of my town anywhere but the local newspaper. The news content is available online, albeit with a few-day delay. And if I want to know what’s playing at the local six-plex? I need a print subscription of the paper. The ad content isn’t online, and the theater doesn’t even have a marquis. If I don’t have a newspaper in my hand, I won’t know what’s showing unless I drive to the theater, get out of the car and walk to the window to read the sign. (The theater doesn’t have a website, much to my dismay.)

EDIT: See the comments below for more the place to find movie times at the Siloam Springs movie theater.

None of this is likely to change anytime soon, on the local level. And it’s really hard for me to even think about replacing my books with a gadget.


4 responses to “The printed word is dead?

  1. I agree that print is long from dead, especially at the book level. Books are timeless. Newspapers are everything but timeless, destined to become outdated as soon as possible. I think local news is only found in print because local newspapers (and small towns) are slow to adopt new forms of technology. Here in Denver, it’s a slightly different story. I can get tons of news about denver online. If I want news about Edgewater, our small town (smaller than Siloam) just a mile from Denver, it’s a bit harder. We don’t even have a newspaper.

    Your movie showtimes thought is inaccurate. Google showtimes 72761 and you’ll get showtimes for Siloam Springs. And this is is the cimema’s “website”.

  2. Well, good to know! I know it hasn’t been up for long; I last searched for it in the first 2-3 weeks after it opened, and it wasn’t anywhere to be found.

    Newspapers, as I’ve stated in the past, are in some ways begging to be replaced in peoples’ days. Still, it’s a ways off, at least on the local level. And yes, you may be right that it’s because small towns don’t accept new technology easily.

  3. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  4. So, Idetrorce, you’re saying that print IS dead?

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