Last week Tom’s Hardware published a piece which used flawed assumptions to ask whether the ereader was dead:
Yes, reading now is a little bit different than it was even a decade ago. While print books are doing surprisingly well, bigger and better smartphones have given e-books a second life. After 10 years of uncertainty, it seems that we finally live in a world where readers of both print and digital books can live in peace with each other. Neither one is going away anytime soon.
And yet, there may be a tragic undercurrent to this otherwise-happy story. While e-books are doing just fine, the fate of the devices dedicated exclusively to those e-books is much murkier. E Ink readers, like the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook are much less widespread than they used to be — and arguably, much less necessary.
Ten years ago, the Kindle was essentially the only game in town for e-books. But now, it’s just as easy to read on your computer, your tablet, your phone — or even all three, thanks to cross-compatible apps. (It’s worth noting, too, that the dangers of reading on LCD screens have been greatly exaggerated.)
In a world where convenience is king and delayed gratification is a dirty phrase, is there any room for a device that does only one thing and can’t do that thing nearly as fast as the supercomputer in your pocket?
This debate is predicated on the assumption that if the ereader is less popular now than in the past then it must be dead. The flaw becomes obvious once we apply the same assumption to other technologies.
Take film cameras, for example. They have largely been supplanted by digital cameras, so film cameras must be dead. And yet you can still buy film cameras because people are still using them.
Or, horseback riding. Horses were a fundamental part of our transportation system, but they’ve been replaced by cars and other vehicles, so horseback riding must be dead. And yet you can still buy saddles, and buy or rent horses; people are still using them. *
And then there are fountain pens, which have largely been replaced by ballpoint and other mass-produced pens.
And yet you can still buy a fountain pen.
With a little work I could go on and list a dozen other examples of tech that, based on the logic of this argument, are just as dead as ereaders, and yet are still being manufactured and used to this day.
Can you really say something is dead if that is the case?
image by petter palander