Are Actual Books Just Too Mainstream?

While taking a walk through the university area of Munich I noticed many antique bookstores which really got me thinking. How is it that so many antique bookstores still have a business in these times where social media and technology are continuously developing?  One can argue that antique bookstores simply have older books which are not accessible on the internet. Another reason to explain the succesful existence of antique bookstores would be the fact that people simply enjoy reading a book and by that I mean an actual book which they can feel in their hands. However, many people have started to read books on different electronic devices such as tablets, PCs or even on their smartphones.  Is this affecting the business of bookstores or are there still many people who prefer buying and reading their books?

Another point that struck me as meaningful was the last newsletter I received from Britannica (the Encyclopaedia). The message was mainly an offer to buy the last printed version of Britannica ‚ ‘‘Be the proud owner of the first and the final printed edition Encyclopaedia Britannica sets‘‘.  Although many of the owners of Britannica just bought it as a mark of status, the Encyclopaedia Britannica was considered one of the greatest products in its domain.  What does the end of Britannica actually mean?


This probably has a lot to do with speed of information. Publications such as Britannica just cannot compete anymore with online sources. Nowadays if you need specific  information you go to the internet.  Of course you have to be able to look through the different web sites and spot the reliable source, but it definitely takes less time than to look in a printed encyclopaedia.  Furthermore, it must take a lot of time to produce such a large Encyclopaedia. Is it possible that they survive online tough? Would people pay for more reliable sources  like Britannica or prefer to go to other user-generated-sources which do not always guarantee the validity of the information provided?

I noticed that the E-books are also getting popular by the minute. Another point that struck me as interesting was an offer I received per mail to buy an USB-Stick for ca. 50 Euros which contained about 15.000 greatest books of all time. I cannot even imagine how much it would cost to actually buy those books one by one(it probably amounts to thousands of Euros).  They called it ‘‘Virtual Culture – Culture does not know age‘‘ . Does owning 15.000 E-books give you the right to refer to yourself as a cultured person? What if you own all the books but just read one of them? It is not just owning them what makes a person intelligent but actually reading them. I think in the past the books you had in your library where actually books you read but with technology nowadays I think this is no longer applicable.  However I do think it is a great offer and even if I am all for reading actual books one cannot contest the practical side of electronic books.  I guess it just makes you wonder towards what we are heading?

I still read many books and love to look for them, to choose them in a bookstore and finally arrange them in my bookshelf after finishing them. Nevertheless I read online extensively too and I check different news sites daily.  I guess it would be perfect to find a way to enjoy both, to find a balance so that print media and online media do not have to be mutually exclusive. I reckon we are in some kind of a transition phase right now and we have to find a way to adapt correctly to these changes.

Miruna B.


  1. Interesting article. Personally I believe that it won’t take long, until the books will completely be erased from our world, mainly because of financials reasons. If you have read “Fahrenheit 451” you surely observed a resemblence between your article (or better said the future of what you talk about in your article) and the situation that is presented in Ray Bradbury’s novel (book being outlawed).

    • Dear Richard,

      I frankly believe that it is only a simple matter of practicality to choose a form of electronic information access. I think that Britannica has lost it s purpose and that time-consuming activities are furthermore pushed away from today s society. So you are right about that and about the financial aspect. However utopia does not seem to find its way here due to the fact that It is a matter of Flexibility and adaptability in evolution and different mentalities CAN only generate from the increased amount of information, so it s definite that the brainwashed population of individuals that you so modestly point, would not find any meaning in this case.


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