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?