Monday, January 31, 2011

I Prefer A Real Book

Please remember that the following opinion is just that - my opinion and I very well could be wrong.  Doesn't happen often but there has to be a first time for everything...... :)

Kindles and eBooks - wanna know what my immediate reaction to them are?

Yuck.  As in - no thanks.  As in - get that thing away from me before I do something nasty to it.

I'm not a luddite.  I just don't like electronic readers.  I know the word on the street is that they will replace real books and to people who spout that belief I say: piffle.  Wanna know why?
  • Because books are part of our culture - real books, the ones made out paper with a cover and a spine.  History marks a huge turning point in our evolution when the printing press was invented and information (that glorious ethereal substance) became available to the masses.  Power, in the form of the written word, was available to the everyday man where once he was completely at the mercy of the ruling classes and religious figures.  Women now had the opportunity to form their own opinions, even to express their own. And you can't tell me that an electronic reader is going to help the inhabitants of third world countries improve their lot in life - but a shipment of books? now that's a different story.
  • Ask anyone who loves (and I mean really loves) books what they think of libraries and bookstores and there's another HUGE reason why an eBook will never replace a real book. 
  • Funnily enough the research is showing that students HATE electronic readers.  Yay for them!!
  • Be honest, how many times have you seen someone at the airport, on a train, waiting for a bus, during their lunch hour reading a book and snuck a peek at what they were reading and then formed an opinion (even just a sketchy one) about them?  Knowing what someone is reading is like them giving you a piece of information about themselves without saying a word.  As a writer that's priceless.  It's impossible to tell what someone is reading on a Kindle unless you ask them - and who wants to do that?
  • Kindles break easily, are not satisfying for tactile people like moi and they don't format poetry properly.
I know the majority of people who like/love Kindles do so because they're lightweight and convenient.  If I had a dollar for every time I read how they make life easier, I'd retire now.  But you know what, maybe life shouldn't just be about the quest to make everything easier.  As a race we are now becoming so sedentary that we are plagued by obesity and early death because it's easier to eat take away than to cook healthy food, it's easier to drive everywhere than to walk, it's easier to pick up the phone to talk to your neighbour than to go next door.  Now it's easier to download a book from the convenience of your home than to take a trip to a bookstore or library.  It's easier to carry around something that weighs next to nothing and can hold 3000 books than to carry a proper book.

It might be easier.  But it isn't right.

In the words of Dr Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park:
"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."


Jackie Ashenden said...

I like paper books. You can read them in the bath for a start. But living in a country with the world's worst selection of romance on its shelves, it's either electronic or nothing for some things. Which is why I buy all my romance electronically for my iPad. Oh and price comes into it as well, plus my impatience. Yeah, I like ebooks but not exclusively.:-)

Suzanne Jones said...

I don't think e books will ever completely take over - you can't beat the feel of a real book as you flick through the pages.

However, I was given a Kindle for Christmas and I love it. We don't have space for many more real books in the house (I buy books obsessively - all my bookshelves are filled two deep, books are piled on every surface and even on the floor against the walls) so e books are a great way to indulge my habit without actually increasing the danger of being buried alive.


Nas Dean said...

I don't have ereader yet and reading ebooks on computer is not on as I already spend too much time on it. I like taking my book outside on the balcony to read so paper books are the way to go!