Some of you may know of my fellow blogger Jade Carver. If you don't already, I suggest you get acquainted.
This morning, she posted a short blog about why she likes what she has come to experience of e-books. I would like to do a brief counter-point to her argument, all in the spirit of lively debate.
I do not own an e-book reader. And while I like the novelty of new toys as much as the next girl, I am all for preserving the print industry. After all, it is my industry of choice. If we all take up reading e-books, this will reduce the demand for print books. While in some cases, this will be a blessing... just think, fewer books about sparkly vampires on the shelves!... in others this will be a problem. Jade talks about the fact that her e-book reader gives her access to books which are out of print or not available in Australia. Well. It is lack of demand which makes these books not available. And if people use their Kindles and whatever elses to read these books instead of buying them, demand obviously goes down. So yeah, it's cheaper. But if you work in publishing, it's actually a lot more expensive. I think in the long term (and sadly, despite my own feelings, this is the way we are headed) the e-book industry is going to severely damage the publishing industry. We will probably see the demise of the small independent publishing houses, although I most certainly hope not.
When it comes down to it, ordering a book doesn't take all that long. And when you receive that book you found on Amazon, or where-ever (The Book Depository is also good), it makes you smile, doesn't it? Simple pleasures in a brown paper envelope.
I'm being a bit dramatic here, but imagine a world without books! And yes I mean to say without books, because novels on screens are not BOOKS in the thingness of them. I don't honestly know what they are, but I'm reminded of that paper that used to come out of fax machines that was all joined together sheet by sheet like a concertina, and had the perforated stuff down the sides that I used to love stripping off. Except in pixel form.
On a more personal note, I don't like e-books because like a lot of people, I wear glasses to read, and I don't think that staring at a screen to read is particularly good for my disintegrating vision. If I sit at a computer at length (and I frequently do), it can make my vision blurry for a little while afterwards.
I want to appeal to the public here and ask you what you love most about books in their coporeal form (hehe)? I love them for the simple reason that they smell comforting. The smell of inky pages (even second hand or from a library) has always been one I associated with parts of my childhood.
Jade's reasons for liking e-books are very good. And I think she certainly has a fair point to make. But there are always going to be some people, like me, who resist. I like being the weird chick on the train with the bag so full of books she can barely carry it. I take a book with me everywhere. And some day I want to see my own novel bound and in the hands of a person not unlike myself. Or even totally unlike myself. I don't think I would feel the same sense of accomplishment if you could buy The Compound only as an e-book. E-book readers probably mean that in the future, it will be possible to self publish on the internet and sell your own novel. And that's going to give rise to the praise of a lot of mediocrity. It's going to blur that line between the true craftsman, and the one who takes the technological shortcut. That's actually probably very hypocritical coming from a blogger...
Look, when it comes down to it, make up your own mind. Yes, e-books will save you money. Yes, they are convenient. Yes, they are snazzy. But some things are worth preserving.
So many books... so little time...