Springer Nature’s expertise in book publishing now dates back more than 300 years. As the publisher of over 13,000 books annually, we are pleased to be able to celebrate UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day 2019. Worldwide, more than 600 editorial colleagues develop book projects with authors and help them transform their ideas into published books every day. Many Springer Nature colleagues can truly say that books are at the heart of what they do.
For people in broad and diverse sectors of society, books are an irreplaceable form of communication. Yet as a publisher we must continue to ask ourselves whether this centuries-old format will continue to survive in the future.
To celebrate this unique means of communication, we have created a list of our top seven reasons why books are still highly relevant and arguably even more exciting today than ever before.
#1 Books are life-long companions
Many of us discover our first book as toddlers. However, reading a book is still a privilege, and those of us who are exposed to books from a young age are lucky enough to have books as a true companion for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, access to books is not a matter of course in every country around the globe, and according to an UNESCO report dating back to September 2017, there are still 750 million adults illiterate. It is our responsibility to work on changing this situation, to make sure that books can begin to play an important role in the lives of as many people as possible. The beautiful side effect: whether we read for fun, to relax, to prepare for an exam, or to learn something new, books will help shape the way we see and perceive the world around us.
#2 Books are knowledge keepers and distributors at the same time
Books are a great resource both to preserve and distribute knowledge. Beyond their physical or digital appearance, books are unique hosts for content which serves a vast range of purposes. Over centuries, books have preserved information which would otherwise have been lost. At the same time, books help to spread knowledge not only across different cultures, but also across generations. Therefore, books are substantial communication means with very high societal impact.
#3 Books promote free thinking and freedom of speech
Like no other means of communication, books allow for a comprehensive discourse regarding complex topics which usually cannot be fully addressed in shorter publications such as journal articles or blog posts. A book roots an idea and offers plenty of space to elaborate it. In a book, we also have the opportunity to explore a certain topic by taking different perspectives and opinions into account before forming an opinion. Due to these properties, books initiate diverse debates within societies and represent an important pillar of democratic thinking.
#4 Books are a trusted source in times of information overload and fake news
Nowadays, many people prefer scrolling through posts and messages on social media channels to reading a book from cover to cover. However, books are not only a cultural asset, but also a trusted source we can rely on in times in which fake news and misinformation are on the rise. Writing a book not only requires a lot of time and considerable effort from the author. A book is also a kind of statement of an author, who is accountable for the content, and publishing editors usually supervise all steps that are involved in publishing the book. Therefore, books can be an effective remedy for false information.
#5 Books are empowering
Reading a book can have the power to change lives. Books are not only one of most common ways to educate people worldwide, but also enable societies and its individuals to think independently and to build intellectual capacity. The ability to read through a longer text and to digest its content is still one of the most powerful skills we can use to our advantage on many occasions. Remember the saying “knowledge is power”? Books are then a useful medium to gain the required knowledge in the first place.
#6 Books offer diverse formats and reading options
A book is a book is a book is a book… not exactly. We already see a vast variety of book formats and reading options. eBooks are only a click away on our smart phones or tablet, and audio books root back to the traditional concept of storytellers. However, we are convinced that books have not yet reached their full potential. New and emerging technologies will have an impact on how book content is presented and consumed in the future, and we expect many new features which will further improve our reading experience. As we all play a crucial role in this eco system, we can shape the future of books and reading together.
#7 Last but not least: reading books improves our wellbeing
Or in other words: reading books is fun! Even though we see a constant decrease in the number of people who buy and read books, reading is still an activity many people devote time to. Researchers’ findings on the effects of reading for pleasure on our wellbeing prove that reading has a positive impact on our lives. People who read on a regular basis feel more satisfied and relaxed, and are less likely to suffer from depression or anxieties. Regular readers also feel more connected to their friends and family.
Working in academic publishing, we know that the fun aspect might not be true for all, especially academic books, depending on the context and circumstances when they cross your way. If you are currently reading to prepare for an exam or work on a research article, you might want to go back and take a look at reasons 1 to 6. Reading a book is never pointless nor a waste of time, even though it might not always be a pleasure.