Will books die? Fifty years from now, will I still be perusing a crinkling collection of pages as I recline in my favorite chair? Michael Crichton and Stephen King are leading the way for a wave of online publications, and around every corner a critic is harping about the decline of literature. According to them, the printed medium is at risk of falling into obsolescence. Perhaps I will never again leaf through the New York Times Magazine on a slow Sunday afternoon, but instead find myself pointing a mid-twenty-first century web browser to Rupert Murdoch Jr.'s site.

But there is little to suggest that books will go the way of betamax. During the advent of the space program, many predicted the rise of space food in everyday life, declaring that Sunday dinner would soon consist of a capsule and a glass of distilled water. However, I have savored more real ice cream than the dehydrated variety over the past few weeks. One buys a Creamsicle for its three-dimensional, wet, cold goodness, not for its efficiency. Likewise, I will never choose the hum of a glowing screen over the gentle glissando of flipping pages.

Books are here to stay, not because they should, but because they have no replacement.