Is the Internet Forever?

There are two reasons to turn your old print books into e-books:

  1. The e-book world is thriving, and adding your books to it will make you wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice.
  2. The Internet will make your books live forever.

I’ll be able to test reason 1, and I’ll be sure to let you know the result.  But what about reason 2?

Most of the plays of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides are gone forever.  After just a few years some of my paperbacks had faded covers and yellowed and crumbling pages.  The Internet would have saved Aeschylus!  The Internet will save me!

In the short run, I’m sure this is true.  Pages don’t turn yellow on the Internet. But still . . . The Internet has been around for 20 years or so.  Print books have been around for half a millennium.  Most print books are gone forever, but some aren’t.  Shakespeare’s First Folio had a print run of about 750 in 1623, and there are still a couple hundred left.  Where is the Internet going to be in 500 years?  Where will .mobi and .epub files be?

If you want to last, you’re probably better off writing like Shakespeare or Aeschylus.

Cover Page of the First Folio

4 thoughts on “Is the Internet Forever?

  1. The answer is “It depends.” The permanence of an ebook depends on there being a compatible reader program that can display the text on a screen. So how are you going to play those VHS or cassette tapes once your tape player dies? Or how about those 8-tracks tapes that you’ve got stashed in your basement? So, will there be an ebook reader for the long haul that will work for your old ebooks? time will tell.


  2. Pingback: Are e-books damaging society? | richard bowker

  3. Pingback: Can books be forever? | richard bowker

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