Many people have trouble switching from one form of communication to another. When people are so used to reading newspapers, books, and magazines, they may be confused at the idea of reading e-books, web sites, and other electronic forms of information. To see this problem transferred to the shift from scrolls to books, you can watch the above YouTube video that shows a monk confused about how to open and read a book.
The problem with any new technology isn’t that it’s harder to use, but different to use. If you try to create technology that exactly mimics existing technology, it may seem appealing to users, but it’s also pointless. After all, why bother creating an e-book that behaves exactly like a paper book but without the advantages of a paper book?
What new technology needs to do is focus on its advantages and ignore any comparisons to the past. You don’t want to mimic existing technology because there’s no point. You want to offer users something different int he same way that books offered readers a convenient way to read long amounts of text without constantly scrolling a paper scroll. Scrolls may have been easier to read, but they’re also cumbersome for displaying large amounts of text. Books are easier for storing large amounts of text but also suffer the drawback of not letting you view the entire text all at once like a scroll.
Today, printed books may be easier to grab and open, but e-books are far easier for storing multiple books and for copying text out of a book to paste in a word processor document. When e-books embrace interactivity along with audio and video, that’s when they’ll completely surpass printed books. As long as e-books are nothing more than electronic versions of printed books, they’ll never be a compelling reason to rely on them exclusively.
Focus on the advantages of e-books and ignore their disadvantages. For authors, the biggest advantage of e-books is that you can publish your work and reach an audience without printing books and shipping and storing them yourself. For self-publishing, e-books are clearly the future.
Print-on-demand books are fine for people who still want a printed copy, but it’s easy to turn an e-book into a print-on-demand book (and vice versa). For fiction writing, e-books are far more profitable since e-books are more disposable. For non-fiction, printed books seem more popular since people want easy access to the information. When smartphones and tablets become commonplace, non-fiction will gradually shift towards e-books as well.
The future is clear. Scrolls are not the future but printed books are. Yet in comparison, printed books aren’t the future compared to e-books, so follow the trend and you’ll never fall behind the rest of the world like people clinging to the past because they refuse to let go of what’s familiar to them like monks clinging to scrolls instead of embracing printed books.