Alexandria Online

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Case of the Wrist Watch

Digital watches hit the retail scene when I was a kid. They were big and clunky with dark screens that only lit up when you pushed the button on the side and then the time was displayed in red numbers. People paid good money to be among the first to flaunt them.

The LCD watches were even better. You could read them at any time and didn't need to push a button. They were loaded with features.

Analog watches, with round dials and a big hand and short hand, are still what you see in most stores that sell watches. That's how people want to read the time.

How do people want to read books?

I was talking with a caolleague who is also very interested in the future of e-books and online educational materials. He was marveling at his i-Pad and the educational possibilities it afforded. I suggested that many people seem to prefer bound paper books still, even those that own or use e-readers. "Nostalgia" was his explanation for this preference; I countered with "aesthetics." He reasserted his position; I mine.

I don't think it's nostalgia that keeps analog watches under the glass counters in retails stores thirty years after the advent of the digital watch, and I think the same will be true of digital reading devices and bound paper books.

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