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Books as a Value For The Modern Society Essay

The invention of printing technology dated back to the 15th century and revolutionized the humanity giving an opportunity to read books in printed form. Magnetic media books were invented in the 1930s. It was caused by the fact that libraries began to face space problems. Meanwhile, the 1960s experienced the development of computing technology that began to influence the industry of book printing. However, at that time, the influence was not as evident as it is nowadays. In the modern society, electronic publishing has become a form of publishing in which journals, magazines and books are being produced.

Books in People’s Lives

Nowadays, humanity has realized that the introduction of new communication technologies has transformed the existing cultural forms and has influenced the book and everything that surrounds it. In the modern society, reading is not only treated as an abstract operation of the intellect, but also as the body engagement, a space inscription, and others. Even if the electronic display achieves the perceptual parity with the printed page, it is not likely to be equivalent to the book regarding the social, cultural, and spatial aspects of reading.

Since the ancient times, books were considered the source of knowledge and literacy. However, the shift from print to new communication technologies does not mean the end of literacy. Modern technology offers a society some new ways of getting knowledge and information. It has been changing a socio-cultural status of writing and the method of book prediction (Bolter 1991, p. 3). There is an idea that new technologies have certain features that make people temper any expectations completely replacing the book as a vehicle for the public discourse conduct. The book is considered a useful source of information and knowledge that consists of infinite benefits. Books can transfer people into different cultures and worlds, inform them about ancient civilizations and historical events. Moreover, they help people get information about new technologies and literature. Therefore, people around the world read books. However, modern books are different from the traditional printed ones. They are in the audio or pdf formats. The help of such books is the same, but people’s perception is different. Therefore, technology has positively influenced people’s reading making it more exciting, easy, and funny. However, it has negatively influenced printing.

In the previous century, Raymond Williams (1962) wrote about a very different set of technologies that may lead to the crisis in communications “caused by the speed of invention and the difficulty of finding the right institutions in which these technical means are to be used” (p. 20). However, reading has always played a significant role in social life. People find that books broaden their minds, provide knowledge, and develop imagination. Books are treated as a valuable tool as they help to calm down when people are angry, sad, or depressed. They take people to the world where they feel relaxed and thrilled, playing the role of an entertainer.

There is an idea that in the modern industrial societies, some books bear no cultural and spiritual burden as they are parts of census reports, catalogues, tax codes, tide tables, repair manuals, telephone directories, and airline schedules. Every technological advance or development directly affects reading and the form of books. Every discovery or invention, including the printing press, mobile devices, and the Internet, has changed the way people communicate, think, criticize, read, and interact. Thus, the topic is more relevant nowadays than ever before.
When people speak about books and their future, they often think about the works of literature, scholarship, journalism, and criticism, and general informative writings. There are a number of concerns related to the printed books and their influence on the modern society. There are threats that the future replacement of the book by new technologies will result in a thriving of new discursive genres that are more expressive, more versatile, and more democratic than the traditional printed books. According to Bolter (1992), the printed books seem to be designed to move to the literature culture margin. “The issue is not whether print technology will completely disappear; books may long continue to be printed for certain kinds of texts and luxury consumption” (Bolter 1991, p. 2). However, the idea of the book will change eliminating the importance of books as the organization and presentation of knowledge and a socio-cultural phenomenon.

Books are an integral part of any civilization. They reflect history, teach morals, maintain a stable language, keep laws, codify philosophy and religion, and spread ideas. The importance and value of books are limitless. Books improve human communication abilities and qualities, such as loyalty, honesty, kindness, bravery, friendship, and others. Books shape people’s character in life.

The main objective of the following research is to investigate the influence of modern technologies on the printed books and their publishing, as well as to analyze the changes in the social perceptions. The paper is aimed at discussing the value of books in the modern society, the influence of technology on book publishing, and the role of books in the modern society.

The research questions will be as follows:

  • Do the printed books have any value in the modern society?
  • Does the development of technology affect the publication of books?
  • What role do books play in the modern society?
  • Can a book be treated as a socio-cultural phenomenon?
  • Research Outline

The research paper consists of five chapters. The first chapter is an introduction. It will provide a research overview, including the role of the printed books in the modern society, the place of books in people’s lives, research aim, objectives, research problem, and research questions. The second chapter is a literature review. The chapter provides the analysis of literature sources relevant to the research topic. It represents the information about the difference between the printed books and e-books and speaks about the influence of e-books on traditional book publishing. The third chapter represents the research methodology, as well as the detailed information about research methods with an emphasis on qualitative research, research participants, sampling, participants, and reliability of research methods. The fourth chapter is devoted to the research findings and research discussion, as well as the analysis of the obtained data. The final chapter is the conclusion of the research findings.

The chapter represents the analysis of the role of books in the modern society, the future of the printed books, and the influence of modern technologies on books and their perception. The review presents the literature related to the topic of the research and provides a systematic description of the research process that is to be conducted to locate the most relevant research. The critique is used as a systematic and disciplined analysis of the written and oral discourse.

Printed Books vs E-Books

Analysis of the literature relevant to the research topic has shown that there is a lack of data concerning the traditional books and e-books, as well as influence of modern technology on publishing. The appearance of e-books has increased sales and readership. They are positioned to replace the printed books. Zhang and Kudva (2014) examined the preference for the printed books and e-books in the contexts of reading a situation, reading purpose, and contextual variables, including education level, age, gender, race, community type, income, and the use of the Internet. The scientists aimed at identifying the factors that contribute to the adoption of e-books. The study showed that e-books had firmly established a place in people’s lives because they are easily accessible. In addition, such books are not positioned to replace the printed books. Both printed and electronic books share unique attributes and aim at meeting people’s needs of reading. They may differ in terms of context, individual demographic and situational factors (Nunberg 1993). The key predictors of e-book adoption are the reader’s income, the number of books read, the frequency and occurrence of reading for the topics of interest, the use of the Internet, ethnicity, age, reading habits, and education.

A contrary idea was presented by Geist (2012). According to the researcher, e-books are rapidly displacing book sales and transforming the way people understand and access information. Privacy of books disappears with the popularity of e-books as thousands of people access the pirated books online every day. This fact makes e-books the norm rather than the exception.
Kanna, Pope and Jain (2009) carried out an experiment on a publisher’s website and collected data concerning the individual level choice. It was found that delaying the e-book release caused substantial changes in the overall sales of hardcover books and a significant decrease in the e-book sales. The scientists concluded that e-book reading requires the adoption of a device. Thus, the hardware side of the market should not be neglected. This factor adds to the general reading habit of people.

Hilton and Wiley (2010) indicated that there is a moderate correlation between the digital books that are free and only permanently available and the increases of short-term print sales. However, the increased sales do not always equal free digital books. The scientists concluded that the distribution of free digital books is likely to increase the print sales. In addition, when free e-books are offered for a relatively long period without any registration, there is an increase in the print sales.

Influence of E-books on the Publishers of the Printed Books

In the constantly developing world, the channels of digital distribution influence the traditional channels in a variety of ways. E-book is considered one of the prominent settings, but it is unstudied. The rapid growth in the e-book market was caused by the launching of the first Kindle by Amazon in 2007.

Publishers and libraries exist to provide access to information. However, they operate from two contradictory perspectives. Publishers aim at making money from the access to books. At the same time, libraries provide that access for free. However, despite their differences, publishers and libraries have successfully existed throughout the history in an uneasy compromise state. The compromise was introduced in the first sale doctrine of the copyright law. It ensured that as soon as the copyright owner sells the work to a library, it has the legal right to lend the book further. However, the advent of e-books has destabilized the situation. The development of modern technologies has rapidly turned the printed books into an antiquated commodity. “By making the printed page electronically available, e-books channel the low-tech manuscripts into the modern, connected world” (Seringhaus 2010, p. 152).

It was found that since the 20th century, printing has changed according to the new technology. According to Pipes (1998), “the printing industry had become fragmented – there were process engravers, separate typesetters, and printers – and someone had to step in to plan and coordinate different printing projects. That job fell to the graphic designer. There was greater creative freedom too” (p. 20).

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According to Kolakowski (2011), “the book publishing industry has entered a period of the long-term decline because of the rising sales of e-book readers.” The industry of the traditional book publishing experiences the frightening implications of the rise of e-books, leading to a decline in the paper book printing, as well as its distribution and sales. It is predicted that the sales of the printed books will decline at an annual rate of 5%, whereas the sales of e-books will rise during the same period. Hence, there will be no coverage of the revenue gap caused by the decline in the market of the printed books (Kolakowski 2011).

The book industry has experienced enormous changes since its creation. From the papyrus scroll invention to the e-book introduction, new technologies have been affecting the way people view and experience literature. There are different ideas concerning the influence of the development of new technology on book publishing and the way people perceive the printed books. It is found that most researchers support the idea that the printed books will not die due to the long traditions and people’s presences.

This chapter aims at examining the influence of modern technology on traditional books and their publishing, as well as the role of books in the modern society. In addition, the chapter will discuss how the research was designed and conducted, as well as will provide explanations concerning the research approaches that were used to collect the research data.
According to Blaxter, Hughes, and Tight (2001), methodology plays an essential role in any research helping to answer the research questions. It allows identifying a potential solution to the investigated problem.

The research will be carried out with the help of a systemic approach that will involve the process of analyzing many relevant research studies. These studies will allow selecting those that can be useful for the research. A number of electronic databases were used to gather the relevant literature sources. All the collected data were sorted and evaluated. The qualitative research was carried out to meet the research objective. Such a research provides the researcher with an opportunity to present the collected data and determine the things that have happened. It is often used to monitor people’s attitudes and behaviour by using interviews, observations, and focus groups. The qualitative research usually consists of investigation that collects answers to the questions and uses a predefined procedure set to answer the questions. The received data may be used to conduct further researches. All data collection tools and methods will be adjusted as the research progresses.

Qualitative interviewing is usually defined as the most appropriate research method as it can provide a lot of data concerning the role of the printed books in the modern society and the influence of new technology on book publishing. A qualitative interview helps the researcher to provide a deep and better understanding of the printed book issue.

It was found that qualitative interviewing is a very flexible way of gathering research data as the interviewee’s direction responds to the research with the focus on the most essential issues that might appear during the interview process. Qualitative interviewing provides greater interest in the beliefs and ideas of interviewees to reflect researcher’s concerns. Researchers are allowed to go off the topic to provide an opportunity to detect the most interesting point and all nuances in the respondents. One of the main benefits of qualitative interviewing is that it does not require any guidance or schedule. In some cases, the researcher changed the order of questions or paraphrased them when the situation required. Thus, a qualitative interview is a good choice for the current research as it helps to get a better understanding of the research problem through the detailed information.

The researcher used a random method in order to find research participants. People were suggested taking part in the interview. The topic of the interview had been provided before they accepted or rejected the suggestion to become a research participant. The interview participants were the randomly selected people. In total, 30 people were interviewed to get data for analysis. The interview was anonymous, and it might enhance people’s agreement to provide answers. In addition, anonymity adds to the reliability of the research method. In the process of carrying out the research, the researcher used the primary and secondary data. The primary data was collected through the interview, whereas the secondary data was derived from other scientific researches, newspapers, journals, and other sources.

The interview is often treated as a managed verbal exchange (Ritchie & Lewis 2003). A qualitative interview helps to have an open two-way communication and allows the researcher to go off the topic and change the order of questions. According to Silverman (2004), an interview presupposes a conversation that is framed as a potential source of error, bias, and misunderstanding. Appropriate order of questions allows obtaining the answers automatically, thus increasing the reliability of research results. Communication skills of an interviewer play a vital role in the success and effectiveness of interviewing. The researcher listened to the answers and talked when it was necessary, as well as changed the subject when it was needed.

The interview consisted of 10 questions. The participants were free to answer them. In order to construct trustworthiness and provide reliable data, the researcher took some notes during the data collection. The interview questions covered the issue of books in the modern society and the influence of modern technology on book popularity and perception, the negative reading habits, book preferences, impact of technology development on the book publishing, the future of the printed books, and others.

As the researcher used the data from the previous researches related to the research topic, the validity of the received data could not be doubted. Anonymity of the interview has also added to the reliability. In addition, the researcher took some notes during the data collection and interviews. This provides the researcher with the opportunity to crosscheck particular sources of information.

The research findings will demonstrate the relevance of professional practice. It requires rigorousness and reliability of the research. In case these criteria are accomplished, there is a research potential of the relevance of the research findings. The validity of a qualitative research is defined as plausibility, reliability and credibility of the data. The research method depends on the combination of supplementary data, project cases, observations, interviews, and questionnaires. It is possible to accomplish these objectives simultaneously if the research product provides suggestions that can act as an action stimulus in a particular area. Researchers provide the refinement of the relevancy concept in the research by suggesting that a research should be accessible to practitioners and produce a long-term behavior change.

The researcher studied the relevant literature before and during the interviews. As the researcher took notes during the interview, it helped to minimize the loss of the empirical data gathered during the research process. The interview participants will be anonymous. The following fact will contribute to accuracy and honesty of answers, as well as empirical data trustworthiness. All this will ensure the validity and reliability of the obtained data.

In order to ensure the reliability of the interview, it is essential that all respondents understand the questions and that the answers are coded without any possibility of uncertainty. In addition, it is important to reach the low-inference descriptions obtained by means of tape-recording interviews or email interviews. In this research, notes will be taken during the interview. Until the interviewing process is concerned, the interviewing approach does not provide very low-inference descriptions. It should be stressed that note taking gives a bit biased picture in contrast to transcribing and recording the interviews.

It is believed that two validation forms are suitable for the logic of a qualitative research. One of the forms is the comparison of different data to see whether they support each other. It derives from navigation where different bearings provide an object with a correct location. Another form of validation is respondent validation. The validity of the received data cannot be doubted. The study is aimed at investigating the influence of new technologies on book publishing. Some data was collected from the international journals, textbooks, and Internet resources.

The interview results showed that 50% (15 participants) prefer reading the printed books and 25% of respondents had difficulties answering this question as they read both the printed books and e-books. The same number of respondents claimed that they prefer reading e-books as it is convenient and saves money. 60% of respondents believed that the printed books still have value in the modern society, whereas 40% found that this value is constantly decreasing because e-books becomes more and more popular. However, they did not deny the fact the in some cases the printed books are the best source of knowledge and valuable information.

It was also found that the development of modern technology had negatively affected the publication of books. This idea was supported by 66% of respondents. However, 34% (10 respondents) claimed that the technology development makes people’s life easier and provides various better opportunities. In addition, they mentioned that there are people who do not change their reading habits and do not follow modern trends of reading digital books. None of the respondents agreed that there are negative reading habits in the society as they do not find that e-books negatively influence people’s reading habits.

33% of respondents claimed that book publishing had not decreased. In addition, they found that it had been experiencing positive changes and more and more people are interested in reading books, the printed books in particular. Hence, the business of book publishing is thriving and has a good future. 33% of respondents had difficulties answering the question as they were not interested in the publishing business. However, 34% of respondents rejected the idea that publishing is thriving as they found that it was declining due to the development of modern technologies.

The interview results showed that 50% (15 participants) follow the idea that the role of the printed books has not changed. They found that the main function of books (both the printed and e-books) is to educate, inform, and equip with necessary skills. However, 50% (15 participants) claimed that the role of traditional books had changed in the modern society and they stopped being as valuable as they were in the previous century. They stated that the value of the printed books decreased due to many factors, including quick pace of life, technology development, changed reading habits, and others.

20% of participants stated that they read the printed books every week as it is an inevitable part of their life and it is required by the environment they live and work. 30% of respondents claimed that they read the printed books every month, but this tendency increases when they have vacations or more leisure time due to holidays, cancelled meetings, and others. 30% of interview participants read both the printed books and e-books. The reading habit changed due to the type of book, accessibility, and even mood. However, 20% claimed that they buy and read the printed books approximately once a year, but some of them like to buy the printed books as a present.

80% of interview participants were strongly convinced that the printed books would have the future. They claimed that digital books would not result in complete elimination of traditional books because of different reasons. 20% of respondents did not follow the idea that the printed books would exist in the future as digital books become more and more popular, thus leading to the complete elimination of traditional books.

25% of participants think that the printed books are more informative than digital ones because of their format. 25% of respondents claimed that digital books are more informative because they are modern. However, 50% of interview participants suggested that both the printed books and digital books have the same value as they have the same context. People choose the book they like or are interested in and read it in the most suitable format. All interview participants claimed that a book is a socio-cultural phenomenon as it reflects the culture, social values, and history.

Most interview participants follow the idea that publishing should evolve together with the needs and culture of the society. Participants agree that the printed books are needed as they are an inevitable part of human existence and have a long history. Rapid evolvements of the digital world would make it difficult to keep all records historically over long periods.

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Analysis of the literature sources shows that the percentage of American adults who read an e-book has risen from 23% to 28%. It is found that there are an increased number of people who use the devices for e-book reading, including tablet computers. Meanwhile almost seven out of ten the US citizens report reading the printed books compared to 4% in 2012 (Ink-and-paper books are still more popular than e-books in the U.S. 2014). According to the findings of the study carried out by Palladino (2014), there are optimistic trends concerning the future of traditional books as more Americans have been reading e-books. Moreover, e-books even seem supplement traditional books. E-books have not replaced the printed books and are still a valuable tool of getting knowledge, information, and cultural values.

It is also found that the number of people who read e-books grew in the past years. However, the number of people who opt for the printed editions has not substantially decreased. Only few readers have completely replaced the printed books with their electronic versions. Therefore, print is still the remains the foundation of people’s reading habits (Ink-and-paper books are still more popular than e-books in the U.S. 2014). “The industry has entered a phase of disruption that will be as significant as the major changes impacting the music and movie business” (Kolakowski 2011).

It has become evident that the increasing popularity of e-books has affected the publishing industry that has developed into a grounded industry. The industry is not ready to confront the massive change in people’s reading habits. The biggest challenge is the adoption of new technology. The book publishers have learned how to function in an ever changing world of development and technology. The printed books are still profitable, and modern readership is the same as it was years ago. Publishers are trying to evolve into a more digitalized format. They create their own web pages to make sure they also reach the audience of different age groups. However, some publishers treat e-books as a method of distribution that they should adapt. The content of books has not changed. The main change is in the way the books are delivered to the public. Despite the digital age and numerous innovations in any society, people are still reading the printed books, finding it a comfortable way of finding information. However, the use of an e-book is constantly increasing. Modern libraries have begun to checking out e-books.

Approximately 600 years ago, the printed books revolutionized the world. Since that time, they have cultivated human discoveries, cultures, imaginations, and intellectual progress with their power to shape and share ideas. Nowadays, people are at a crossroads as rapidly advancing technology changes the way they access and read the written word. New technologies have made people read more as it has become more convenient and easily accessible. It has negatively influenced the industry of book publishing.

The world of digital technology has substantially changed the way people perceive things and how they use them. It has made things more accessible and pleasurable providing people with an opportunity to own what they want and what they need. All industries, including book publishing, have been influenced by the development of digital technology. The appearance of e-books has been changing the way people read books and the way books are treated. Nowadays, it has become possible to read a book just clicking a button. Kindles and iPads have made it affordable and easy.

Despite the fact that book publishing is in the process of great transformations, the printed books will always have a future. The world of reading will always welcome them due to a long history and ancient traditions. There are certain things that traditional books can give a reader. The atmosphere of reading the printed book cannot be duplicated by a digital device. E-books are not proper replacements of the printed books due to better quality, format, and experience. The printed book will never die because of the experiences they give. The market of the printed books is still open for readers who prefer reading in the old fashion way, displaying books as works of art, or giving a good book as a gift to their friends and family members, having books signed by authors, or even just going to the bookstore to buy books.

E-books provide readers with an opportunity and right to read the data. However, the printed books that people buy give the right to do whatever they want with them. A bookshelf may tell people about the owner’s personality, likes, knowledge, and interests to entertainment.

The digital world could give the printed books a new and better future, as well as better quality, including better and modernized hardcovers, better art work, or fewer paperbacks. It could help to sell books better, as well as provide more affordable prices. Technology helps publishers make the most of the printed books. It has become evident that the development of new technologies will cause a number of substantial changes in publishing. The combination of modern technologies and the technologies of electronic diffusion enables the publishers to deliver texts over an electronic net to the readers who can view them on screen or print them to have the high-quality paper copies. Nowadays, electronic distribution has become a primary means for publishing new materials.

In addition, the printed books may benefit from the digital world in the form of exposure. Blogs, social media, forums, writing groups, press releases, and advertising of books are made very lucrative with the help of different new digital technologies. A book might get a better support on the Internet than it could get before the digital world explosion. This type of advertising can reach a great number of people around the globe, and an agent or author can advertise his or her creation in this way by himself or herself. An espouse in the non-digital world can cost a fortune, but people who know the digital world may save a number of advertising expenses. The debate about the influence of modern technology on the reading habits and book publishing still plays an essential role in the way people experience books. The new publishing process is the way things are headed. It enables creative control to the writers and producers of the books. It can also pre-filter the success or failure rate of a certain book.

Nowadays, publishers have different reasons for releasing the free electronic versions of books. They find various ways to make the free electronic versions of books profitable. There are cases when the sales of a Kindle book of the second and third books in a series experienced a dramatic increase when the first book was available for free. In addition, some authors and publishers may have some hidden motivations that are not indirectly related to sales. As books tend to become increasingly available online, the free distribution effects may rapidly change. The explosive growth of various e-book formats could dramatically influence the way that free distribution affects for-profit sales and even change the print sale importance. People who tend to read e-books are common, but it does not mean that their reading habits will eliminate the printed book in the near future.

The current situation with the growing popularity of e-book and digital distribution channels for content has made many publishing companies change the whole cost infrastructure. The effect on the cost basis of traditional distribution centers is evident. In addition, the production of the published products has also dramatically changed. However, digital distribution and content leveraging with new digital models have not distracted people who prefer reading the traditional printed products from paying for them. Thus, mass market publishing is still required by the modern society.

Interview Questions about Books

  1. Do you prefer the printed books or e-books?
  2. Do you think the printed books have any value in the modern society?
  3. Does the development of technology affect the publication of books?
  4. Are there any negative reading habits in the society?
  5. Do you think publishing is thriving?
  6. Is the role of the printed books the same as it was in the previous century?
  7. Do you buy the printed books? How often?
  8. Do you think the printed books have any future?
  9. Are the printed books more informative than e-books?
  10. Can a book be treated as a socio-cultural phenomenon?

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