It is being repeatedly said in many quarters that books are dying. Mister Mo argues that even if it is so, it does not matter: content is everything.
There is a lot of talk about how sad it is that people are not reading as much as they used to. By “not reading”, the reference is to books. People are not reading books any more as much as they used to, it is said. Books are dying, we hear again and again as alarm bells are sounded. Newspapers too. Print is on its way out, the town criers repeat. You probably have heard one or more variations of this.
Again and again, we are warned of the impending apocalypse that will befall human civilisation as books become an endangered specie. Perhaps aliens would even take over!
For starters, I do not know for sure that print is on its way out that soon. Remember how some people trumpeted the death of radio when television showed up decades ago? Well, radio is not dead yet. This is partly why I find the tears and wailing about the impending death of books amusing. I suspect that it is more noise than reality.
Does The Platform Matter?
We must however entertain the idea that some day books will be gone forever. Whether it happens soon or much later is a different argument. The question is, What if books were to go extinct? Would humanity be worse for it?
Not at all, I say. A book is nothing in itself apart from its content. We pore through books for its content. Content is king, whether the platform is traditional or digital. Even with printed material, content is king. If the book dies and goes away forever, we lose nothing as far as we have the content – on webpages, in e-books, in video, audio, or any other format we may adopt.
Technology continues to evolve. It gave us the printing press, making accessibility to information much easier than ever before. Now, technology has given us digital media and made information and knowledge even more accessible than ever before.
Content Is Everything
As a student in school, I used to visit the library to learn new things. I have not stepped inside a physical library in many years, yet I learn new things on a daily basis. The content is still available, whether I read a physical book or not. The platform does not matter. Content is everything.
Over ten years ago when it was not cool, I stopped carrying a physical bible to church meetings. It was an odd thing to many. Many churches even frowned on it then. Today, a lot of pastors preach from a tablet and not having a physical bible on you is no longer seen as something odd in Christian meetings. I suspect that it is a similar case in Muslim circles.
The content that we used to consume only in books decades ago is now available in a wider range of platforms. We have text, images, audio, and video at our disposal via desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. We will see platforms evolve again and again.
Whatever the platforms that die and whatever the platforms that evolve into being, content is king and will always be with us. In itself, the book is nothing but a shell. We can afford to let it die.