Thursday, January 28, 2010

E-readers? Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Haven't got myself an e-book reader yet. Don't know that I will in the future, either; while I've embraced blogs and Twitter and all kinds of other Information Age goodies, I might be an old-fashioned curmudgeon about this particular invention. As this article suggests, there's something sacred about a book. There's a smell of paper, glue and ink that you'll never get from an e-book reader, though that's more of an olfactory delight than a sense of the sacred.

A good book will last you a lifetime if you take care of it. You'll never have to throw it away for a newer model, update its operating system, charge its battery, or worry about what naughty chemicals inside it might be toxic. And with old school books, you also get to buy build-it-yourself bookshelves from Ikea and find out one little doodad is missing when you put it together, and no one should walk the earth without going through that at least once.

Leaping to this new technology will also mean leaving all the older books behind, something akin to shrugging at the burning of the Library at Alexandria and saying, "Oh well, that was all old stuff, anyway." If it's out of print, you won't be able to get it on your e-book. I have an old copy of The I Inside by Alan Dean Foster. I read it again every couple of years, always enjoying the tale of Eric discovering he's an alien construct. Won't be able to geek out over gems like that on an e-book, unless publishers wish to go to the expense of paying for electronic rights for their back catalogs. (Methinks legal wars are a'brewin' over that already.)

I think e-readers are an excellent idea for many, many people. My agent loves his; he uses his Kindle to read electronically submitted manuscripts, as many agents do, saving on paper, and I have to applaud that. But that's work. I can't see going to the beach with an e-reader and feeling relaxed. (Not that I regularly visit beaches in Arizona, but you know what I mean.) I imagine the risk of it getting damaged with either sand or water would be fairly high. And you'd probably have to worry about someone stealing it while you went for a swim—how is that relaxing? Nobody's going to steal your $8 paperback.

Amazon CEO dude Jeff Bezos thinks books are going to go Permian and everyone will be buying electronic readers instead. I'm going to hope he's wrong. I don't want to be 70 and telling my grandkids in a cracked, wheezy voice, "I walked 10 miles in the snow uphill both ways, and I remember when books were made of trees!" —"Wow, grandpa, did you get high off the ink?" —"Eh? What?"

1 comment:

  1. I agree, my friend. I don't plan to ever purchase an e-book reader. I enjoy my library far, far too much.