Books vs. the Internet

For the longest time, books were the cheapest form of education possible. Sure, you could learn from your grandparents or a wise mentor/friend, but those relationships take time and effort to cultivate and require that the other person invest in your education, which may or may not always be feasible.

Instead, books have traditionally offered the biggest bang for your buck. Not only are they fairly inexpensive compared to the amount of time and effort and knowledge poured into them, they’re widely available and can be passed around from one person to the next (the library being theĀ epitome of an organized way of doing this).

But this is changing. Books still have their place. Now, though, the Internet is replacing them as the cheapest form of education. Cheaper, faster, more relevant, searchable – all of these qualities tip the scales in favor of the Internet over books.

It’s not that blog posts or Wikipedia articles can take the place of books, offering the same structure and level of detail provided in complete volumes. What they can do, though, is enable people who wouldn’t otherwise have the knowledge or skills or patience to learn from books to learn through other mediums: tweets, two-minute videos on YouTube, 800-word articles on personal blogs, on-going podcasts.

The Internet simply offers more dynamic content and more entry points for learning than books have or ever could. This means it’s not only almost always free – it also doesn’t cost much time or effort to learn from it, regardless of how much you know going into it, which can’t really be said of books.