Yea, that’s right, you heard me; a pox on ‘em!
(Or maybe just a nasty little e-book virus. Dead power source, maybe?)
Okay, that may seem a little harsh…let me explain.
I am sick to here (picture me with my hand to my brow) of hearing statements like, “E-books are the wave of the future” and “paper books will soon be obsolete.”
Oh, and let’s not forget my favorite comment – uttered by a guy a mere 10 years younger than me and possessed of a head like a bristly blond cement block, “you need to get with the new technology and stop being techno-resistant.” My reply to him? Dude, I love technology; I am on my laptop hours a day. I do the research for my writing on the internet. I carry a cell phone. I have a website, and a blog, for crise sake!
See, this last comment is the very crux of why I am irritated. Some people (and the list includes pretty much anyone who doesn’t really know me) assume that since I don’t want to run out and purchase an e-reader it’s because I am afraid of technology – and I find this misconception both patronizing and annoying.
So let’s put that one to bed first..
I love useful technology and embrace it. The kind of technology where life would be harder or less convenient without it. The conception of the World Wide Web was the most important invention since the wheel in my opinion. And cell phones are right up there with penicillin.
It’s the gratuitous stuff that I have a problem with; the ‘new technology’ that seems designed merely to make us think we have to have it, but which really doesn’t add any significant value to our lives. And yes, I am talking about e-readers, here.
So, let’s have no more of that kind of techno-resistance talk.
Here’s the thing: I love books. REAL books. The kind that beckon to me from the bookstore or library shelf like a siren’s call to a randy sailor. I love the feel and smell of them. The heft and girth of them. (And yea, I prefer the big ones – when it comes to books, size does matter – pass me one of Diana Gabaldon’s 1000 page pleasers). I love the colorful jacket art and turning them over in my hands to read the back copy; opening the cover to read the long teaser coyly hidden inside the front jacket. Bookstores? Wonderland. Used bookstores? Dusty-smelling, dimly-lit Heaven. Used bookstore with a latte machine? Ahhh, Paradise.
Are you starting to breath heavy yet? Cause I am.
I love holding the book in my left hand and slowly turning the pages with my right. It’s something tactile. And don’t give me that bunk about how you can do that with an e-reader, cause I’ve tried it, and honey, it ain’t the same. It’s a simulation of the experience, not the experience itself.
I’m not buying that argument that e-books will save trees, either. Human beings consume trees in the form of paper in a thousand ways every day. Are those who claim e-readers should replace real books for this reason installing bidets and giving up toilet paper? I doubt it. (I see those jumbo packs of extra plush and soft in your baskets at Wal-Mart.) When you give up your TP, then maybe I’ll start to take your tree hugging sentiments serious.
Alright, so let’s look at some pros and cons of real books VS the virtual.
If I drop my real book in the pool or tub – two of my favorite places to read – I simply fish it out. A day on the cool decking or on top of the dryer and it’s good to go.
An e-reader? Hmmm….Last I heard they aren’t water-proof, or even resistant. (The e-reader industry’s solution to this is a $40 zip-lock bag thingy. Double yuk.)
Advocates say an e-reader is great to take on vacation.
So’s a real book.
“But you can take all the books you want – loaded inside an e-reader,” my friend Bethany will say.
Well, what kind of vacation are we talking about? Am I going to read more than one book?
“E-reader downloads have become really, really cheap.”
Uh huh. The last REAL book I purchased, a onetime best-seller, cost me 25 cents. Boo yah!
“The classics are now free downloads.”
Okay, now that’s a nice feature. I like to read a classic a few times a year. (Reading Ivanhoe at present). Granted they are, and have always been, available for free at the public library. Enough said.
“E-books help avoid the problem of having to get a publisher to accept your novel for publication. Someday everyone will just create their own e-files and sell them on Amazon.” This from a few writers I know and articles/blogs I’ve read.
Have the people that like this idea actually read any self published books lately? Because I have – and let me tell you, not many are up to the standards of what’s published by the industry. Does the publishing industry ever publish dreck? Absolutely. But most of what makes it to our bookstore shelves is well-written and well-edited. A lot of the self published stuff is barely even proofread, let alone edited. Imagine wading through a dung heap of self indulgent, low-brow gibberish to find the gems.
(This is not to say every self published book is terrible – there are some very good ones. But they are the exceptions. I know, I know: you think yours is one of them. Well it’s NOT! Can you say re-write? Go back to your desk and rethink that plot, deepen the conflict and develop your characters. Then have someone else read it for you. And I don’t mean your wife and 12 year old daughter. They love you, so they’re gonna lie. Have someone with an English degree read it – preferably someone who has read thousands of books.)
But that’s another blog.
Okay, now that I’ve had my little rant – and you have been very kind to stick with me and read it – let me just say, I actually like e-readers. I feel they are a nice addition to real books. And anything that encourages folks, especially younger ones, to read, is a good thing.
Just don’t try and tell me they are going to ever replace REAL books.
Click the link below for another viewpoint:
What would you pay for an e-book?
Want to weigh in? I’d love to hear what you think! Feel free to reply in the comments section below.