(’10)The book has no place in modern society. Discuss.

Related: (’03)Does the book still have a future?

(’08)Nowadays, the pleasures of reading can never compete with the pleasures of visual entertainment. To what extent do you agree?


(Introduction) Since the early ages, books had been hugely important to human civilization, as instruments for communicating information and ideas. However, in this age of information and technology, everything once written in books can be quickly brought online, adapted into films, and transcribed onto our screens. Undeniably, this has made life much more convenient and entertaining. But, this also means that the functions of books will be, somewhat, replaced. Technology provides a faster and more convenient way for us to do many things, compared to books. Still, I believe, there is much value in books. Books put readers through an irreplaceable experience. The internet can never take away the feeling of reading a book, nor the connection between the reader, characters, or even the author, at that given moment. Hence, I believe, the book still has its appeal, and its future, in today’s modern society.

(Refute 1) Some may say that the book has no future. This is because new media has replaced books’ informative purposes. Information, ideas, and knowledge once written in books can be, and will be, eventually, all brought online, or made into e-books. The Amazon Kindle, a series of e-book readers, has over 3.2 million e-books available in its database. The internet itself has several zettabytes (1 000 billion gigabytes) of data. Sometimes, this medium is even better than paper books. For instance, Apple’s ibooks provide interaction between ‘book’ and reader, unlike paper books that only allow for passive reading. Furthermore, the internet makes the information once on books quicker and easier for people to access. When people want to know something, they will usually venture online to do a search, instead of going to the library or bookstore to find a book with answers, as this takes up less of their time. As seen, books that once served as sources of knowledge and information are replaced by the better alternative. Hence, the book has no future.

(Supporting 1) However, I beg to differ. The internet does have a bigger pool of information that is more easily available at our disposal. But how effective is it in transmitting that information to us, and making sure that that information is retained in our heads? We would probably remember what we read from a book, but not what we read on the net from 3 weeks ago. For example, in a 2011 experiment published in Science Magazine, college students remembered less information when they knew they could easily access it later on the computer. Precisely because of how easy information is made readily available to us on the net, our brains start to disregard this type of information, with the mentality, ‘I’ll still be able to find it online easily, later.’ In contrast, because information from books was harder for us to find, we tend to remember it, in fear of never finding it again. This is why many textbooks and academic books still come in print, and many have been continually revised, reprinted over the years. Hence, the book still has its appeal, and its future, in today’s modern society.

(Refute 2) Still, people argue that books have no future because their leisure purposes have also been replaced. In the past, reading a book was a good way to unwind and relax, as a form of escapism for readers. However, with the advancements in technology, there are now other, better platforms of escapism. These include movies, drama, and film; books were gradually adapted to the big screen, and people opted to watch those instead of read the original book. Simply because, they bring the book to life (literally), allowing people to actually see what the book was describing. Static words and sentences are replaced by real-life, moving images. This change definitely seems appealing. In some cases, this resulted in the movie/film series overshadowing the original book. E.g. ‘Jaws’ movie series (Who knew they were actually adapted from a novel?) Other than that, with the development of avenues such as video games that are more stimulating and exciting compared to books, and engages a person to a larger extent, books that once served as sources of leisure and entertainment have also been competed out by their better counterparts. Hence, the book has no future.

(Supporting 2) However, I beg to differ. Indeed, while the new mediums have their merits, they have not taken away the appeal of books. The appeal of a book is that the reader is able read the story at his/her own pace. Every flip of the page is decided by the reader. The reader takes charge. This is not possible for a moving film, unless one is able to bear pausing and rewinding portions of the film over and over again. Furthermore, books also allow for readers’ imagination. When movies and films present everything to their viewers, they leave no room for imagination. Everything is just as it seems. However, for a book, the same words may mean many different things to different readers. Everyone is allowed to interpret the stories, the ideas, the characters, their own way. This way, books provide more satisfaction compared to films. Hence, the book still has its appeal, and its future, in today’s modern society.

(Supporting 3) Furthermore, functions of books have expanded since ancient times, and they have also adapted, along with others, to today’s modern society. This allows them to stay relevant today, and in the future. For instance, Books have become therapeutic, and not in sense of merely providing inspirational quotes or advice (the internet can do that); some have become specifically therapeutic in nature, and they are gaining popularity with the public of society. For example, Bestselling books in Amazon include coloring books for adults: Secret Garden: An Inky treasure hunt and Coloring book, and Enchanted forest: An Inky quest & Coloring book, both by Johanna Basford. Secret Garden: An Inky treasure hunt and Coloring book has sold 1.4 million copies. Colouring is a therapeutic activity that allows people to zone out, relax and focus on a simple task. The process of filling in black and white drawings with colour can be paralleled with the process of filling up their stressed-up lives with good and vibrant things. Such can only be done on paper books. The computer only simplifies the process with the ‘fill’ function on Paint, causing the therapeutic effect to be lost. In an increasingly fast-paced, stressful society, such books would only become even more relevant in the future. As seen, this is one function of the book that can never be replaced by the technology, among many others. Hence, the book still has its appeal, and its future, in today’s modern society.


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