Here’s why books will never be obsolete

By: Natasha Archary 



Bookworms can attest to the magic of being transported into the world within the books they read. And, yes, with the advent of technology you may not be far off to assume that people would rather read an e-book, than flip through the pages of a good old-fashioned, printed book.


There are, however, traditionalists who would never be able to trade the hard cover or leather bindings for a digital version. The numbers do not speak volumes for South Africans however, with only fourteen percent of the population consisting of readers. Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, berates the lack of reading culture in the the country.


That said, seven out of ten adults read for leisure. While the form of reading material is subjective with many preferring magazines and newspapers to an actual book, a survey conducted found that seventy percent of the country’s population reads for leisure. The survey further notes that twenty five percent of South African adults read books, and a total of five million adults were committed to printed books.


Older generations would be able to recount memories of visits to the library, for research on school projects or to borrow new reading material during the school holidays or weekends. A past-time that may be lost on the millenial youth of today who may not have been exposed to that social culture until campus life.


That said, it doesn’t look like the life of books will ever be obsolete. Remember vinyl music in the age of the CD? Yup, sceptics thought the same would happen and that internet would replace the video star. But, vinyls are making a comeback and video stars just have a new platform to release their work on, so nothing was ever replaced.


In the same vein, books will not be replaced completely by e-versions. It was presumptious to think it would. Popular reading material always changes the statistics, we only have to go as far back as the Fifty Shades trilogy which took the world by storm and made reading in public popular again. In South Africa, the famous Hlomu series had people reading the books everywhere. With workplace banter and social small talk revolving around the lives of the muchloved characters and that’s what books do.


An e-book may make convenient, travel sense but it’s still not as pratical as an actual book because unlike a hard copy, you have to always charge digital readers which is way too much admin for avid book readers.



Science cites the following reasons to read a real book:

  • It increases intelligence – Starting children with reading material from a young age exposes them to a strong reading culture that grows on them. Strengthening their affinity to read also gives them an advantage to excel in school, with a higher vocab and better scores on tests.
  • Helps you concentrate – Scientists claim that e-books are more challenging to get through because distractions are more likely to interfere with the reading. Books offer you dedicated reading time, they don’t need to be charged, you can read anywhere without needing to be restricted with cables, you don’t have the irritation of the glare from a device afterwards and the information is easier to absorb with a physical copy than a digital version.
  • Relaxes you – What could be better than snuggling up with a good book (and maybe a glass of red) after a long, stressful day? Research shows that reading can reduce stress by as much as sixty-eight percent. In many cultures, including zen, reading for thirty minutes a day is said to enlightening your mind, body and soul.
  • Can help you sleep better – No need to count sheep or take unnecessary amounts of sleeping pills to help you sleep better at night, reading a book before bed helps you sleep better. Note we did not say on an e-book because the screens can actually keep you awake for longer whilst a book may help you reach deep sleep much faster.
  • Reading is addictive – Ever start a book and realise you’re unable to put it down until you’ve completed it? You take it everywhere with you and wait for a spare moment to get through it. You dream about the characters, invest time in exploring their worlds and can’t wait to be alone to finish the story. It could quite possibly be the peace in the solitude a book gives you that is addictive but experts suggest it is the joy from reading that many fall in love with.


Nothing compares to a book, the smell and feel of the pages, weather leather bound, hard or paperback covers, once you crack them open it will be difficult to put them down. There has to be a reason books have been around for centuries, something must be appealing about them, our need to have a book, our love for the written word, the beauty of literature…all reasons books will never be obsolete.

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