Is the digital revolution more of a slow evolution?

print-digitalTwo images sure to strike fear – or, at least, early-onset ennui – in the hearts and viscera of book lovers of a certain age and pulp-centric persuasion:

– A well-thumbed paperback edition of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is splayed open, its spine exposed to one of the middle chapters, maybe to that scene where Huck runs into the two con artists while scavenging for berries. But the book has petrified into rock, a veritable crystallized fossil, something long out of use and valuable only to future archaeologists studying early, primitive 21st-century homo sapien reading implements.

-Early afternoon at the California State University, Sacramento, student union, and noses are buried in screens big and small – laptops, tablets and smartphones, all glowing and demanding attention. Not a book, as in the actual physical object, to be found among the studying horde. Except for Keandre Cruz, a mechanical engineering major over by the food court. He’s got a thick hard-cover “Adobe Digital Desktop” textbook. He’s using it to prop up his laptop, open to an electronic text he’s perusing.

The vision (dystopian to some, nirvana to others) of a bookless universe, where pixels replace pages, seemingly has gone from artistic flights of fancy – San Francisco artist Alexis Arnold’s pointed petrified-book statement in response to “the shuttering of bookstores” – to a reality in which a printed text’s utility doesn’t extend much beyond mere furniture.

Next page: Researchers look at millenials and print materials