Are you an e-reader or a p-reader? I am guessing you are a reader, because you are reading a blog-but which sort?
The march of all things digital forges on like the charge of the Light Brigade. The digital front, I believe, cannot now be halted. We have seen this irrevocable development in music, where downloads have eclipsed all other forms including tapes, CDs, mini-discs and the like. Of course all these formats are still available, together with ‘vinyl’. ‘Vinyl’ however is very much the preserve of nostalgia junkies, those of us who lament the passing of the album and it’s arty, expansive cover…useful, as I recall, for all manner of activities-proper and improper.
Increasingly, a similar divide exists in literary production. Among readers, as with music lovers, people tend to be either firmly in the e-book camp or clinging emotionally to p-books. In defence of p-books, most of the argument tends towards romantic and usually includes some of the following:
- ‘Oh-but I love the smell of a real book’.
Yes-the smell. Most of my paperback purchases were from charity shops or second hand bookshops. The smell would often be accompanied by stuck together pages and unidentifiable stains…
- I like to hold a proper book in my hands and turn the pages.
- They look lovely on the shelves/add to the decor etc
They do. I still have packed shelves of real, proper books. They do look attractive. I just haven’t added to them in recent years.
- You can write on them/highlight/return to parts/bookmark and so on.
Actually, I never did scribble on books, even as a child, when I believed, as I do now that a book was an object to be revered, treasured and kept pristine for posterity. You can do all of these actions to an e-book.
- Bookshops and libraries will go out of business.
Many bookshops will go out of business, like record shops. They will either have to adapt in cunning ways or sink without trace. I think there will always be a market for children’s books, for example.
I am a convert to e-readers, although I have regrets about owning one from a certain, best-selling, market smothering, tax-avoiding company. Before I succumbed to going all electronic my reading purchases were random and not necessarily successful. I was inclined to stick with writers I knew or titles I’d heard of.
I’d get anxious before any lengthy travel that I would be stuck somewhere remote without anything to read, not having the capacity or strong enough arms to carry the weight of that number of books [my reading appetite is of the voracious type]. Now I can load a library full of titles and if I’ve devoured them all I can access some internet and replenish the supply in seconds.
Husband has a subscription to a newspaper on his reader, so that he will never be anywhere without knowing the latest rugby results or how much lower the pound has sunk.
Most books are considerably cheaper to buy than their paper versions which means that the device has more than paid for itself by now. Classics are, for the most part, completely free. This has led me to tackle many titles I might have avoided, [with varying degrees of success!] I am still flogging my way through ‘Les Miserables’, albeit with interludes of respite, but I loved Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.
So I am wedded to my tiny, purple, leather clad gadget, even though I still read an occasional paperback for my book club. How about you?