Sunday, January 10, 2010

Paper Please

This morning we watched a segment on how books are moving to an electronic format. This is also a trend in academia because it does significantly reduce the cost of textbooks (they are ridiculously priced!). Personally, I could never use an electronic or e-book. Here are the top three reasons why I think e-books will never replace paper books.

3.) How can you make notes in an e-book? Nearly everyone I know who reads for pleasure marks up their books. We make notes, underline, put question marks, exclamation marks, or argue with authors on books' pages. How ever would we do this in electronic format? MS Word comments feature? Doubtful. I just can't see this working out.

2.) How could you share a book? Sure, we can share files, but we are faced with a double issue here. If Amazon can erase a book from Kindle without your knowing it, who's to say your reading cannot be manipulated in other ways, including not being able to file share with another reader? Can't you see it now? George Orwell, what did you know that we didn't? Ray Bradbury, at what temperature do electronic files burn if books burn at Fahrenheit 451? Our library records are already tracked. What would happen if our book files could be, too?

1.) Could you cuddle up with a laptop by the fire and get that same warm, fuzzy feeling? I don't think so. There are all those angles, cords, and that whole mouse or scroll thing that would wreck the experience. And drink a cuppa whilst reading? I don't know about you, but I have killed more than one laptop with tea.

There is this recurring mental picture I've had since this morning. It is from the first Star Trek movie in which James T. Kirk discusses his latest acquisition -- a paper volume of a well-loved book. Spock is amused by the antiquity, but Kirk lovingly strokes it and says something about the humanness of it -- which, of course, Spock doesn't get.

Guttenberg only printed a handful of Bibles in his lifetime. I've touched one in the British Museum. I wept. Nothing, nothing, is as lovely as a well loved volume, marked, crinkled, faded, and well-fingered by tender hands. How can an e-text compare with that?


  1. Is there anything more wonderful than simply holding a brand new book - once I've selected it and paid for it and it is mine? I believe the first time I experienced that feeling was when I was in High School and had just bought my own personal paperback copy of The Catcher in The Rye. That might have been one of the first books I ever actually purchased myself. (Probably because it might have been banned from our school library!) I think I can still even “see” the book in my mind’s eye – sort of a reddish brown in color.

    I really don't want to read an e-book.

  2. Yes, and Jean Luc Picard preferred the old books to their electronic books (which remind me a lot of what the Kindle looks like now).

  3. My friend loooves her Kindle, but even she admitted that, if she loves the story, she buys it in 3D. There just isn't anything like holding a book. The caveat that interests me: I carry a LOT of books when I go on vacation, and the electronic format would be nice - one item, has all my books in it - 300 instead of 3 - that would be kind of cool. But I'd probably only use it for travel. My entire house is lined with bookcases for a reason!

    -Connie in San Diego

  4. I just love this post, and whole-heartedly agree. I love reading my books, but I also love just looking at a bookcase full of books I've read... every familiar spine brings back a memory of where or when I read it. Ah, don't you just love a full bookcase? I appreciate modern technology, but they'll have to pry my books from my cold dead hands! :)


  5. I know, I can't get excited about the Kindle etc. I just don't see it replacing books entirely. I know lots of people that commute and love it for that. But I can't imagine cozying up with one!


  6. I love paper, emphera, etc. Could never, ever give up books! They can have Kindle!

  7. As someone who is greatly influenced by the cover art, I hope books will always be made. Remember smelling the new books the first day of school? Can't do that with a Kindle!



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