Tag Archives: language

Books, ebooks & Squashed Bugs

6 Oct

ebooks!

Do I hate them? Affirmative.

Have I used them? Negative.

Does that make me a grouchy elderly person? Probably not at this current moment in time because I’m only 19, but I would say it indicates that in the future I will be like those old grannies that refuse to use Microsoft Word because they already spent years learning wordperfect back in the 90s.

I just can’t disregard the fact that I love old crumbling books (and I love that old book smell. Unashamedly), I love dogeared pages and I love holding a BOOK in my hand. Now some words that spring to mind to rebut my love of real books in this ebook debate: modernisation, progress, advancement, technology, convenience, development. Ok fine. As an ezine article notes:

Ever since the dawn of civilisation, the progress of mankind has been aimed towards one main purpose and that has been to make life easier and more convenient…Books and newspapers are the latest additions to the paperless online juggernaut

(Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7068840)

And yes, I concede, in a changing media landscape the ebook is just another way of getting things NOW, getting things quicker and of course…like the iPod…not having to lug a whole library around with you. So yes Mr. eBook, you win points for practicality. But surely you only need one book at a time? And maybe, as noted in the Rise of e-reading,  eBooks encourage more people to read. But why do I feel a little stab of offence in my wee-little heart, every time I see an ebook reader on the train? Perhaps the pros and cons will help:

The Pros and Cons of the eBook Race, According to Myself and My Research:

PROS:

  • Cheaper (the price is usually around half of the physical book price)
  • Faster access (can purchase and download straight away)
  • No more long lines at the book store!
  • No more overdue library book fees
  • Convenience
  • Promotes more reading amongst those who would not usually read (according to a U.S. Survey)
  • Allows easy access to a wider range of material for those who are already avid readers (see here)
  • Creation of a new market for online eBook businesses

CONS:

  • Requires electricity (the benefits of a good ol’ book, was that you could have it in your bag, for all those times when technology fails us – I agree with this gentleman)
  • Doesn’t have the same generational/family importance – a memory passed down the ages
  • Libraries die
  • Book shops die
  • Paper factories die
  • The social environment created in book stores and libraries of like-minded, book-loving people is…dies
  • The ‘old book smell’ phenomenon fades into an oblivious of myth and legend
  • We spend even more hours of the day staring at a digital screen

So ok. I think I’m coming closer to the reason why eBooks make me cry. Some facts:

  1. To purchase an eBook, you usually won’t pay more than 50% of the physical book price (so they have an unfair advantage already!)
  2. 43% of Americans aged 16 and older have read an eBook (so it’s definitely on the rise)
  3. There are more than 4 x the amount of people reading eBooks now, than 2 years ago (so it’s definitely, definitely, on the rise)
  4. 42% of ebooks are read on computers, 41% on digital readers like Kindle or Nooks, 29% on cell phones and 23% on tablets

I think my major issue with this whole eBook phenomenon, is that it’s obviously on the rise = people seem to enjoy the convenience and cheapness = so I feel like I’m on the losing side. And I don’t like losing.

I just feel like we have excused every technological development with:

The thinking behind progress being that a better life is an easy life.

(Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7068840)

But has technology made our lives easier? The stress of having your employer and work contacting you whenever he wants via call, txt, email. The suffocating rise of reliance on facebook for notifications, event invitations, birthday reminders, phone numbers, friendship connections. As if our eyes were not already overwhelmed with torturous over-exposure to screens of all kinds – work computers, home laptops, televisions, GPS screens, mobile phones, tablets, iPods.

And if all progress was to make life easier, then what is the point of art? Maybe eBooks make me sad because they no longer carry that ‘work-of-art’ aspect that real books just exude…a little bundle of joy, with a tangible cover – is it cloth? Is it paperback? Can you knock on it? Is it textured? Does the title stand out so you can feel the letters with your fingertips? Not only is a solid book a piece of art, but it carries so much heart (or soul, as this guy says) a note you scribbled here or there, a folded page, a slightly torn page, a coffee stain, a squashed bug…(yeah sorry if that’s icky, but at least it has character! Squash a bug on your eBook reader because you’re to engrossed in what you’re reading to carefully flick it off, and see if it has the same effect when it slides off your plastic protective cover!)

References:

(image from wikimedia commons)

http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/why-i-hate-ebooks-by-daniel-roush/

http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/04/04/the-rise-of-e-reading/

http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Ebook-Phenomenon&id=7068840

http://digitalpublishingaustralia.org.au/2012/04/05/lies-damned-lies-and-ebook-statistics/

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