I empathize with nostalgia for vinyl records, print photography and projection film, each invented in the late nineteenth century, but it is important to note that books date back to the dawn of civilization. From the aesthetic of a well crafted novel to the arrangement of a fine library, humanity has revered books and their predecessors since the manufacture of papyrus.
I am neither a purist nor a Luddite. I am an advocate for the digitization of all media. DVDs, CDs, digital film, MP3s and any device that does away with tangible media is a step closer toward progress and efficiency. However, a book is sacrosanct. The takeover by Kindle and other electronic readers is inevitable. I have never used a Kindle, but I am sure it has a number of deficiencies. My point is that any technical problems will be resolved over time and the demise of the paperback is all but certain.
Jonathan Franzen has a strong opinion on the subject: “People who care about literature care about substance and permanence… The essence of electronics is mutability and transience. I can see travel guides and Michael Crichton novels translating into pixels easily enough. But the person who cares about Kafka wants Kafka unerasable… Am I fetishizing ink and paper? Sure, and I’m fetishizing truth and integrity too.”