12 Mar 2010

The electronic book revolution

I've just read a very interesting article pleading the case of e-books. More than pleading, rejoicing over the advances in technology that many fear will lead to the "end of books as we know them". You know, the Kindle, the iPad etc...

I've been kind of divided on the subject since the Kindle hit the stores and the topic has become more and more frequent lately. 

On the one hand I really love books. I wish I could live in a place where I could set up a library/reading room all cosy and comfy just for my books. I wish I could afford to buy more sturdy and gorgeous hardbacks that will stand the test of time. I love the feel of the book in my hand when I read. I love taking it to the beach, to the pool, relaxing in the tub. All things you can't enjoy (or not as much) with the new electronic formats. 

But on the other hand... think of all those trees. All that paper that is just destined to... what? Be passed on to subsequent generations? We're not talking about books like those published 200 years ago that are still around today. Quality has gone down. Several of my paperbacks bought in the early '90s are looking mighty scary. Not to mention the fact that there's no guarantee your kids will share your tastes (I know I had absolutely no interest in many of my dad's books as a kid). And then there's the matter of books you just pick up out of curiousity. A best seller you've been wondering what everyone's so excited about. A thriller you pick up at the airport or train station to help pass a more pleasant trip. Books that aren't really that great (and sometimes downright crap). Books which, once read, will end up being tossed out, "donated" just so you can get rid of them because they're not worth the space they take up on your bookshelf. It's all those books I would feel perfectly comfortable just reading on a screen.

The author of the post I mentioned above definitely subscribes to that point of view, but he goes farther still, extolling the possible virtues of the new medium and foreseeing a revolution of sorts in the way we interact with our reading material:
As the publishing industry wobbles and Kindle sales jump, book romanticists cry themselves to sleep. But really, what are we shedding tears over?

We’re losing the throwaway paperback.
The airport paperback.
The beachside paperback.

We’re losing the dregs of the publishing world: disposable books. The book printed without consideration of form or sustainability or longevity. The book produced to be consumed once and then tossed. The book you bin when you’re moving and you need to clean out the closet.
 For the rest of the article (and trust me it's well worth the read), just click here.

What's your take on these new formats? These new reading options that seem to be launching our libraries into the 21st century?

PS: if I was on the fence with Kindle, the iPad has practically got me converted! ;o)
Now, if only I could afford one... :p


  1. There is a great advantage to the rubbish but bestselling books - future historians may be able to tell more about us and our culture from something that wasn't great, but a lot of people were interested in and enjoyed, than from something terribly arty and wonderful that hardly anyone read. And I have this convicition that technology will soon fail us so only paper books will survive. Only I would view it in that twisted way though, right?! :)

  2. You must have been seeing Jericho recently! ;o)

    Perhaps good for future historians, but there are some books out there I'd really rather not waste the paper on! But any book I do enjoy and read repeatedly would have to be non-electronic... :o)

  3. I've never seen Jericho - I'm gonna have to go seek it out! :)

  4. Indeed! I got REALLY hooked on it and recently watched it again courtesy of a Christmas present from a friend (it's just 30 episodes).


    If we were living in the same country I'd loan you mine... but I believe you can rent dvds off Amazon in the UK? Lucky devils! ;o)

  5. So! I have already discovered lots of interesting stuff about you, I LOVE the tabs on the top of your page. I'm going to do that as soon as I can find a couple of days... and about those electronic books: I spend so much time sitting in front of my computer staring at a screen that I resist the idea of reading on one too. I also like to take my book to bed and read until I get sleepy. Gonna go check out that Jericho link. Back soon.

  6. Ditto on reading before bed. I actually have a much harder time falling asleep if I don't read a bit (and I wouldn't want to do it on a screen). The downside of that is sometimes I get hooked and read 1/2 the night away! :p
    But the only reason I'm partially in favour of these new gadgets are for books I don't want taking up space on my already over-crowded shelves...

    As for Jericho: Excellent television! I only wish more people had caught it on TV in the US so it could have lived longer. I caught the "alternate" final episode they made for season 2 (it's available on the dvds) in case they got renewed (they put together both a "season" and "series" finale for the just in case)... and boy would that have taken season 3 to some interesting places! I just hope one day they can get the Firefly/Serenity treatment and show us the "civil war" on the big screen! ;o)


Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)