E-Books are a great thing, and if you disagree, you probably have really flimsy reasons for doing so. In my experience, most E-Book haters seem to hate E-Books for sentimental and materialistic reasons- which would be fine, if the haters can admit that their reasons are sentimental and materialistic. “You don’t get that feeling of holding it, the smell of the paper,” all that kind of crap. But bottom line: MOST BOOKS BOIL DOWN TO THEIR WORDS AND NOTHING ELSE, UNLESS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT POP-UP BOOKS AND SUCH.
Now I’ll admit, I can be sentimental and materialistic, and I have a soft spot for the smell of the paper, too. I still buy paper books, especially by authors I really enjoy. And I will continue to buy paper books for as long as they exist, which I hope is always.
Which brings me to a very important point: PAPER BOOKS AND E-BOOKS CAN AND WILL CO-EXIST.
Vinyl may no longer be the main form of music media, but it still exists, because there will always be music lovers who want the feel and sound of vinyl. MP3s have not and will not kill vinyl. Similarly, E-Books will not kill paper books. What E-Books will kill is all the wasted space taken up by mass-market paperbacks that people would discard anyway: the Da Vinci Codes, and other assorted airport reading. For that, lovers of books and trees and physical space should get on their knees and thank E-Books.
And please stop claiming that books are this perfect technology, the way Jonathan Franzen does:
“The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It’s a bad business model,” said Franzen, who famously cuts off all connection to the internet when he is writing.
OK, so paper books can do a thing E-books can’t, which is survive water. (Sort of.) But neither could survive a fire. In 10 years, I’ll be far more likely to need to replace my paperback copy than my non-degradable copy of an E-Book. But do you know what other things E-Books can do that paper can’t? With an E-Book you can click on a word you don’t know and look it up in a dictionary already inside your E-Book. You can also search your E-Book faster than you could possibly search a paper book. Want to find every reference of “God” in The Brothers Karamazov? I’ll press a couple buttons on my Nook, and you can go through my paper copy with a highlighter and get back to me in about 93 hours.
Franzen also offers this turd of a complaint:
“Someone worked really hard to make the language just right [in a printed book], just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough.”
I mean, I guess Big Brother could just sneak into my Nook and start moving words around my E-Book of 1984 to make it look like totalitarianism isn’t so bad after all. Actually no, that’s probably not going to happen. I think even George Orwell would be like dude, quit being so paranoid.