Years ago, predictions of labour-saving devices we could look forward to included a pill to be taken three times a day, to save the effort of cooking.
It didn't seem such a bad idea to me at the time. Now, however, after discovering that putting together a meal need not be a matter of scraping burnt bits off the bottom of the saucepan, I have learned what everyone else always knew: we eat not just for nutrition and survival, but because the experience can - and should - be enjoyable. Aromas, colours, texture: all are integral to the pleasure of food.
So far, so obvious. The same, however, also goes for books. A recent report by Bain & Company has shown that even those described as "millennials" - the generation born clutching digital technology as well as teddies - greatly prefer the physical book to its e-version. Apparently, in the 15-25 age group last year, 68% chose paper over digital books.
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It's a remarkable figure. Those of us who had to master computers as if learning a foreign language have long been made to feel archaeological in our attachment to the old-fashioned book. Though I suspect there are as many pensioners downloading e-books now as grandchildren, the impression we so-called dinosaurs were given was that only the hopelessly out of touch would persist in seeking out medieval technology. Now, however, our passion seems to have been vindicated. Better than that, it's being shared.
Much as I'd like to say I told you so, that's not what this column is about. All but those readers who have had digital bypasses are probably living a double existence. I get all my newspapers and magazines on my tablet and have downloaded the titles I'm taking on holiday with me later this month. When sherpas are in short supply, it's the easiest option. Not just that, but e-guide books can be superb. Their information is absolutely up to date, and their maps and images are brighter than the Sistine Chapel.
Even so, the physical book is not merely clinging on but flourishing. Those of us who find ourselves rubbing the page to enjoy the feel of the paper, or sniffing a calf-skin binding as if it were Chanel, are beginning to realise we are not so weird after all. The aesthetic qualities of a tangible book are clearly something of universal appeal.
Much of the credit for the endurance of print must go not to those of us who haunt bookshops and ruin the car's suspension with boxes of booty, but to publishers. Standards of design and production have noticeably risen in recent years, making many books things of beauty even before a page has been turned. By attracting those who might have been swithering between digital and pulp, it seems they may also have helped shape the tastes of those new to books in any form.
There again, it might simply be that younger readers have been brought up on attractive picture and story books, and simply refuse to compromise. The children's market has always risen above the e-tide, and offers a calibre of artwork worthy of the National Galleries. Could it be that this rich tradition is instilling a love of paper books from a reader's early days?
There's no doubt that the future remains uncertain, for digital as well as print. I look around my home, so buttressed in books that pulling up a chair first requires a crane to clear space. If these were stored in e-form, the in-house librarian tells me, it would take a programme with the processing power of the Hadron Collider to catalogue them. Then I think of my great-nephew Harry, who attended his first book group this month, before he was a week old. His mother sees his middle-of-the-night feeds as a chance to catch up with her reading. It's safe to say that no matter what lies ahead for all of us, books aren't going to disappear, whatever shape they take.