Hooked on books

Had my hands on Jakob Nielsen’s Designing Web Usability last week. Better late than never :)

It is amazing that, although the book was first printed in 1999, the principles of Writing for the Web he talked about 10 years ago are still valid. That’s two thumbs up to the author.

However, I wouldn’t write a blog just to say how shrewd Mr. Nielsen was.

The line that grabbed me most in his book said:

…we have to wait until approximately the year 2007 for books to go away and be fully replaced with online information

(Jakob Nielsen, Designing Web Usability. New Riders Publishing, 2000. Page 5).

The ultimate example of usability: a book.

When I read that, I was sooo happy we were approaching 2011 and his prophecy (at least this one) did not come true.

Yes, there are now ipads etc. which people say are very cool and convenient to use. But I guess no one will argue that books didn’t go away.

People who believe that books must die face a great challenge indeed. They have already made the screens very small and paper-like, you can even ‘turn over the pages’ now.

But you still cannot mark important lines with a pencil, throw it across the whole room to your friend or let it slip off your armchair in case you fall asleep while reading, read it in a place where there is no constant source of electricity, and buy it for one pound.

And don’t forget we can still read Johannes Gutenberg’s editions of the Bible, more than five hundred years after printing!

Besides, screens are not healthy.

I, for one, get a terrible headache when I spend hours reading those highly scannable webpages. I am not a doctor and can be wrong here, but my guess is that my brain is not capable of digesting the amount of data that goes into it in a short space of time when you scan online texts. Neither my eyes are, to be frank.

I wish I could have a quick look into the future to see if books will survive. I hope they will.

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