Digital Books

eBooks“The dream is an old one: to have in one place all knowledge, past and present” (Kelly P. 1). The human race has long desired to have all its historical images and writings preserved and accessible using one source. In the year 2006 Kevin Kelly wrote an article entitled “Scan This Book!” in which he explained the then current process of scanning books and documents unto the internet for public viewing. He believed that soon all reading would be down digitally.

Kelly’s Vision

Throughout the article Kelly compiled evidence in support of his prediction that eventually all documents will be digitized to form one large Universal Library. Google, along with other search engines, had begun to scan in books to be accessed on its websites. Due to copyright issues some of the books only had excerpts; but in other cases they were allowed to scan in the whole book. The main road block for being able to scan all printed books into a Universal Library is the issue of copyrights, especially when it is unclear who owns the rights to a book. Kevin Kelly claimed that eventually the lure of the screen will overcome the need of printed books and that “the technology of search will transform isolated books into the universal library of all human knowledge” (Kelly P.13). Kelly envisioned a future where printed books grew dust as the digital word expanded into reader’s hands and minds.

The World Today

Today, we have many forms of digitally accessing published books. Through the use of e-readers and tablets, readers can have thousands of books in one place. Nooks, Kindles, and Ipads all grant access to the written word and also provide useful reading tools—highlighting, note-taking, dictionaries, and bookmarks. Also, magazines and newspapers have strained away from print and have started to post more on the online versions of their information sources. Digital writing and reading has expanded so much that every business from local diners to the Disney Company has taken to online blogging, adverting, Tweeting, and Facebooking. Schools have even put an emphasis on online learning and utilizing technologies for projects. It would appear as though Kevin Kelly was accurate in predicting that traditional printed books and communications would start to fade as we are now entering a new digital era.


Kelly, Kevin. “Scan This Book!” New York Times Magazine (Sunday, May 14, 2006): 1-13.