Wednesday, March 31, 2010

To e-book, or not to e-book

That is the question everyone's arguing over these days.

Linda Holmes over at NPR shares her argument for e-books:

I cannot smell wisdom. I cannot smell memory, or the past, or people who were reading a hundred years ago and have handed down their tradition of reading by firelight.

You know when I sense wisdom? I sense wisdom from the words. For me, language contains wisdom and tradition and history, whether printed on a page, heard aloud, read on a screen, or recalled because it was meaningful.
Alex Beam offers his opinion against e-books in the Yale Alumni Magazine:

The physical book does not exist, and has no value. The digital book has no front or back covers; there is no place to assert ownership, and there is nothing to own. The “digital delivery module” is a piece of molded plastic made in China, encasing a few memory chips. That is not the book, that’s the “reader.” Wait, I thought I was the reader. Oh, never mind.

Electronic bookplates? I don’t think so. “We have created a library for you on,” the manufacturer of the popular Kindle says, but I know they’re just kidding. If they had created a library for me, they would have included In Every Face I Meet, by Justin Cartwright, or Richard Holmes’s Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage. Their library exists on a server farm, where real estate is cheap. My library is here, in this room where I am writing.

“This books belongs to . . . no one.” Welcome to the future, a less intimate and a less ornamented place.

1 comment:

  1. It does seem like arguing over ebooks is the thing nowadays. I wonder if people were so upset when we went from scrolls to bound books. *laughs* Basically, I like to think of ebooks like the new Gutenberg. It's a new way to get books into people's hands and promote faster reading.

    True, there is nothing better than a book in your hands, but in the end, a book is a book. It's filled with words and ideas. It takes you to another world, whether it is digital or something you can hold in your hands. If it promotes reading in a world that is constantly bombarded by television, movies, video games, etc, then who is to say it is such a bad thing?