Books – Things Which Don’t Grow Old

To be affronted by the fact that the work I’ve done writing this blog will most likely not realize to any monetary return is a sad thought. However, it is a fact that Clay Shirkey (2002) suggests I should come to terms with. The blogging platforms on the internet such as WordPress and Tumblr give everyone else who has access to a computer and the internet the ability to publish. Publishing new ideas and work is no longer confined to those who have the money and credibility to publish.  The legacy model of publishing has started to decline since the arrival of blogs. Many refer to this process as mass-amateurization.

Mass-amateurization does not mean the death of the publishing industry. Some of us still have a desire to have a physical book resting in our hands instead of reading a digital copy on the computer or on our tablet devices. There is a sense of satisfaction with holding a book or the morning paper instead of holding the cold plastic cover of your tablet. I think this will be one of the reasons for the continuation of the publishing industry.

I think one of the most important values that a book or newspaper or anything that is published on paper has is authenticity. On most cases information in books are correct. Information published on the internet may not always be accurate because any person is able to publish on the internet. This quality is also a reason for the continuation of the publishing industry. Take for example university assessments. Most lecturers encourage students to use books as part of their academic sources. I’ve heard this line many times “Remember, we still have books.” This emphasis on using books shows the credibility of written work.

The book will live, but as the younger generation arrives it may take on a smaller role in the publishing world. This shift in dynamics has already started.  I often see parents give their 2-3 year old children a tablet to play to keep them occupied. Just take a look at the video below.

The next generation is growing up with an IPad and not a book in their hands. There was a dramatic rise in the sale of e-books last year. With technology being such an integral part of our lives, holding a newspaper or book may soon become a triviality that the older generations indulge on.

Shirkey, C 2002, Weblogs and the mass amateurization of publishing, Clay Shirkey’s writings about the Internet, October 3, viewed 13 September 2013, <>

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15 thoughts on “Books – Things Which Don’t Grow Old

  1. I completely agree with you. And your writing makes me a little bit sad because as you said the next generation will be growing up with new technology, not with a traditional tool, which is totally different from our generation being told to read a paper book in our hands by our parents. However, it is actually a good thing at the same time that 74% of students prefer a printed book over the digital counterparts and only 13% prefer to buy e-book. Here is the website Yes, we cannot neglect a traditional device and the publishing industry.

  2. I dont like the idea of books going out of date and having a kindle replace the. I dont feel that is gives the same experience. But you are correct about the mass amateurization of the publishing world. everyone can now be counted as a publisher just by going on Twitter. But should it be so easy? Should we have anyone and everyone writing? How do we know its correct? im all for the freedom the internet provides us but i want to make sure that what im reading isnt all made-up, we still need to make sure its creditable

  3. I think it is important to distinguish between books and online publishing, like you have done. Everybody should have a medium or an outlet for their thoughts and opinions, and sites like WordPress or Twitter certainly provide this. Because the internet has a very limited possibly non-existent quality filter and there is no risk to the user when you publish something online, everybody can write anything. Legacy media, like Books, have a very strong quality filter and as a result have more trustworthy and reliable information. For me it is not an either or situation between these two information outlets, it is both. I think both can co-exist successfully as long as people are educated on the fact that a lot of online content is unreliable. This would cement published works as a reliable source in the minds of many. As for the ebook versus hardcopy book debate, I really do hope that authenticity keeps hard copies alive. There is nothing more satisfying than your own bookshelf full of books!

  4. There is still something pretty special about holding and reading a book in your favourite spot. Turning the pages, folding the corners when you reach the end of the chapter will always hold value in my life. I have tried to read books from iPad’s and eReaders and find the experience very different. With a book you are immersed because it is the only thing that you are doing at the time. With an iPad or similar subconsciously you are still connected to the real world. eMails, alerts and iMessages flood the screen and distract your attention from the essence of the eBook. I am not a parent so it isn’t my place to say if they should be putting digital devices in the hands of infants. However, my most vivid memory of my story books as a young child was seeing the vibrant illustrations of Clifford the big Red Dog or Hungry Caterpillar. They are certain memories I know I want my future offspring to share as well.

  5. That video was extremely relevant and cute of course. After time we will all be familiar with Ipad’s or kindles as a medium for reading that the actual physical will phase out or only be read by a small number of people. As sad as it is and as much as we resist this it’s definite that this will occur as book shops will be rare to none if any.

  6. Wow, that video was just scary! I think your post really captured what mass amateurization was all about and its a pretty depressing notion. Luckily, like you said, books still hold that authenticity and are often considered more valuable because a publisher thought that book was worth it and good enough to back with a lot of money in order to be published. I know that people are turning to electronic devices over books more and more these days and the books elitists like you and me are dwindling but I think books might just win out. There will always be people who find books irresistible and one of the reasons behind that is actually chemical. The reason old books smell so good has to do with the chemicals in their pages and the ink breaking down. Smells better than metal, glass and plastic.

  7. the ability to hold a library of books on one device is still quite mind blowing but foreign to me. It makes sense in the ways of logistics and space but reading for me at least involves a sufficient amount of concentration. If I was to be reading a book off a device that was connected to the Internet I know from previous experiences that my full concentration would be spread amongst many different platforms too. Every week it seems that although I see the benefits of innovative digital ways to consume content, and I do capatilise on some of them, I am having a hard time letting go of nostalgic methods of the past. For me a book is still pages in between 2 covers and it certainly gives it a feel of authenticity when put in contrast with all the easily obtainable rubbish that gets put on the Internet

  8. I completely agree with you too, the amount of 5 year olds I see with iPads makes me so sad. One of my favourite memory’s as a child was picking up a hard copy book and getting lost in it.

    Although I have to disagree with you as I think that eventually everything will become digital and books and newspapers will eventually die off completely. This is not necessarily a good thing though. The fact that it is extremely easy for any individual to publish written work online and have it noticed will play a large part in this complete change from hard copy documents to digital.

  9. I have always been an avid book buyer, for some of the reasons you mentioned in your post (such as feeling satisfied by holding it, rather then the cold metal).

    However oddly I find myself wanting to fight for the use of ebooks. After reading this site ( I can’t ignore their reasoning.

    They are completely correct in saying that ebooks can be updated more easily. Imagine you buy a book on the Prime Ministers of Australia, over the past 6 years you would have had to have bought 4 different versions. And what about academic textbooks? How often are we told we can’t use last year’s version because the “Question on page 45 is worded slightly different”?

    With ebooks, the publishers could simply update this information without the consumer having to re purchase a product.

    I think I may be sold now to only buying ebooks!

  10. I enjoy buying books and often I am able to get some of my books cheaper in hard-copy than as an e-book.
    I believe it will be a little while yet till we see most of the younger generation use only e-books. I say this because my thirteen year old cousin is an avid reader and when asked if he wanted a kindle for his birthday he declined and stated he prefers to read an actual book.
    My issue with e-books is where do they go after you die? Is it like Itunes and you actually never really own the product, but are merely borrowing it for your entire life span? In this article they demonstrate that due to the non-transferable clause that Itunes and Amazon have, your e-books may also be closed down when you die.
    At least a cherished book can be passed through generations.

  11. Terrific blog post. I personally, like many others, love reading physical books. But I can certainly understand the appealing convenience of the kindle, I mean books take up SOOO much space. However, I have to say a bookshelf filled with books is a beautiful sight… It’s actually really interesting seeing the opportunities the internet has helped create for writers. There is actually a sight called Jottify, at which is basically a place for writers to submit their work for others to read and critique. If it’s good enough, your work is published as an ebook and you get money! I think it’s brilliant 🙂

  12. Although the authenticity of the published word can sometimes be in question, I agree with the point you make. Mass-amateurisation has lead to a culture of uneducated writers who are also often uninformed, and often the average Joe audience has been seen to take everything written online as gospel truth – an alarming thought! In the case of citizen journalism, these untruths have been believed and recirculated by those in power. Check out the spread of these untruths on twitter

  13. Your example of society continuing to purchase books, not because of the are more convenient or technologically advanced than an eReader, but for the nostalgic feel which is comfortable with many humans. I think this example can be related to music also, where people often say “who would buy a CD anymore?!” and yet almost every artist puts out a physical CD with their releases. There are still many stores that are thriving off both books, and CD/Record sales (another tangent about nostalgic mediums). Yes it may have dramatically decreased the sales and audience for these products, but I don’t think they will ever die out.

  14. Haha great video to prove your point! But I have come to believe that publishers who sell online book are still publishing books. They may not be made of paper but they are certainly using all the other resources of a publishing house in order to create a mainstream flow of books and papers. I think that mass amateurisation comes from self publishing online ( and from the access that everyone has to writing their own blogs rather than from a lack of physical copies being sold in stores.

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