The Atlantic article “The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper” is a sad story on the decline of print books in education establishments. The article states an over 60% decline in physical books being checked out by students and faculty. Nowadays, digital articles, ebooks, and online reference management software are the primary tools for scholarly research. The wealth of knowledge is not lost when switching from print to electronic formats, but I feel we lost how much we perceive the work done by authors. When we find a book on a bookstore shelf, we notice the nice-looking cover and the volume. The physical appearance of the book is essential for our perceptual mindset: “A big book means more information regardless of quality. But we opt for an online version that is both searchable and easily accessible with our computers. With digital books, size doesn’t matter because we can acquire ebooks regardless of quantity (number of pages) or quality (author X vs. Y). We then search rather than read cover to cover. By losing the physical essence of print books, their practical value as a whole book diminishes. Discouraged authors will then print fewer books or write smaller volumes. There is no way around this problem other than appreciating what authors write through reading and learning from what they give us.
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