There is something uniquely tactile about sitting down with a good book. The feel of the pages, turning a page with anticipation to find out whats going to happen next, or folding over a corner to mark your spot. With the increased demand, and push for digitization of information however this is starting to shift. Google Books Library Project, seems to be creating a paradigm shift towards a new way of reading and accessing information. Google as an entity already stores and catalogs massive amounts of data freely accessible on the Internet making this shift a logical step in the quest to be a repository of everything. Google has even gone so far as to patent a book scanning device that will account for the curve of the page and flatten it without distortion. Google is not the only one that is pushing for the digital distribution of books and writing. Amazon has their Kindle many schools already provide only resources either through online 24/7 books, or through electronic reserve. Publishers such as O’Riley offer there own subscription based access to many of their books.
CNN recently put up an article as well about the future of libraries. CNN talks more about the shift of libraries to meet the demands of Generation Y, where libraries are turning from dusty havens of the shushing librarian to hip multimedia based forums. Chances are we’ll just see equally quiet people sitting on laptops using Wi-Fi to access online databases of books, but there could be further shifts towards a more immediate sharing of information, though these physical locations will compete with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, where an audience can be much larger. Like the printing press before it, digital distribution of books, novels, poems, short stories, ad infinitum, this will allow more people to share and access media than ever before. I think there will always be a special place for books, even in future looks at society such as Star Trek, where people access most of there data through Kindle like PADDs, books still show up often as treasured artifacts of those that enjoy the tactile feel and physical experience. However, the day and age where books were the only way to read a novel is quickly coming to an end.