As early as 1894, there was speculation that the introduction of the phonograph would end the demise of books: They’d be replaced by what we today call audiobooks.
This happened again and again. Movies, radio, television, hyperlinks and smartphones – all conspired to destroy print books as a source of culture and entertainment. Some claimed the end of books would result in cultural regression and decline. Others envisioned utopian digital futures, overstating the advantages of ebooks. Studies have shown how people develop a close relationship with objects such as books, televisions and computers. Sometimes, we even make them, giving a name to our car or shouting at our laptop for not working properly. As a result, the emergence of a new technology – like e-readers – doesn’t just indicate economic and social change. It also causes us to adjust our relationship with something that has become an integral part of our day-to-day life.