If I could go back in time and tell the people of an era one really important thing about the future of books and reading, it would simply be that books are not going to die. With this message, I could travel back to a variety of different time periods, because there have been many instances of moral panics over “the death of the book” (i.e. Théophile Gautier in 1835 France; Marshall McLuhan circa 1966).
The intent behind this message would primarily be to allay these poor book lovers’ fears regarding the death of the book. Think of the time and energy that could have been saved and redirected into more creative writing endeavours if people hadn’t fixated on arguing over this issue (not to say that what people wrote about the matter in all of these different periods is not interesting in and of itself!). I wish I could tell them that books will change, and while some will embrace this change, books as they were known in times past will continue to flourish, and people will continue to read them. If they had known this, perhaps more people would have been encouraged to write books, to write more books, or to write different books.
As we have learned in this course, print books are not going to die, and e-books are not going to take over. Even if they did, works would still get read, even if the format might change slightly (or drastically). In any case, other technologies such as newspaper, radio, or TV will not replace books and reading: the need for books is strong and the love for them is ever-present.