Scientists and science writers are readers. We like our books.

An article in local media reminded of a thought I’ve had for a while, that perhaps eventually the only printed books will be up-market gifts.

It’s hard to envisage coffee table books being on small  consumer devices, their being dominated by their large formats and lustrous illustrations.

There’s also the (pop!) psychology of them as gifts. The givers want to offer something physical, not digital, and the size and presentation of the product matters.

By contrast, when it comes down to it, a cheap novel really is in the reading – the raw text. The physical product matters less.

This, of course, depends on us all affording those fancy consumer gadgets… while the individual electronic books might be cheaper, you still have to claw back the cost of the reading device within it’s lifetime. There’s also the fiddly issue of who owns the copy of the electronic book they bought.

What do you think?I personally like reading printed material. Silly as it sounds there is something to holding your own copy of the book. Even so, I can see myself mainly reading on electronic media in time. Currently the only e-books I own are computer programming references. (Aside from that these can easily travel with my computer, you can cut’n'paste code from the books.)

I also like the idea of being away from computers for some things! Electronic communication in it’s myriad forms (e-mail, twitter, blog comments, …) is so distracting. Leisure reading for me is a time when I put all that aside.

Other articles on Code for life:

A Geek Nation reviewed

Science-y reading and open book thread

A forensic scientist tells it like it is

Ancient books (or I’d rather be reading)

Book sales, frumpy readers and mental rotation of book titles

Writing a popular science book; links and writers’ warnings