E-Books: Are We Losing Something Essential?

As some of you may or may not know, I host the Chunkster Challenge. I took over this challenge from Dana who ran it for several years and always had the same rules (which I adopted when I started hosting it last year). One of the rules is NO E-BOOKS. There is a rationale for this which you can read here on the Chunkster blog.

For the first time in the many years this challenge has been running, people are complaining loudly about the rule against e-books being counted for the challenge. It has made me realize that indeed, readers are embracing their e-readers and wanting to read digitally. And that makes my heart ache just a bit.

I have heard all the reasons why people want to carry around their little, lightweight readers filled to the brim with digital literature:

  • I can’t hold a traditional book easily
  • It lets me adjust the type large enough for me to read more easily
  • It is more convenient then lugging around a book (or books)
  • I can have thousands of books available at the push of a button
  • It takes up less space in my house/purse/car/office
  • I don’t have to go to the store to buy a book (or the library to borrow) because I can quickly go on line and download a book

I’m sure I’m missing some more reasons…but what strikes me is this: every single reason seems to revolve around convenience (except for the rare person with a disability who finds they need a device from which to read – and that I totally understand).

I wrote a piece not long ago (which guest-posted to author Ru Freeman’s site) . The article examined how fast the world spins these days, how we’re always “plugged” in to our digital media, how we don’t often take the time to slow down. Technology races ahead, our computers quickly become outdated, we have to constantly upgrade our televisions, we “follow” hundreds of people on twitter, blogs and facebook. Despite the convenience of technology, many people feel overwhelmed and isolated. There is rarely time to just slow down and take a breath and enjoy something that takes time.

Perhaps this is why I have my heels dug in when it comes to e-books. There is something about sitting with a traditional book in one’s hand, curled beneath a quilt perhaps, or snuggled under the covers at night. There is no back-light – just words on a page. There is the feel of a book, the smell of its pages, the weight of its words which sit heavily in one’s hands. No digital medium can replicate the feel, smell, and bliss of a traditional book…a book with actual pages. I hate the coldness of the digital book. It seems to lack life to me. When I sit down with a traditional book in my hands, the world fades away and I am transported inside the book … not just because of the story, but because of the overall experience. No one will convince me that reading digitally can replicate that exact feeling.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not dismissing readers who love their digital readers. I think it is great that people are reading. I’m not saying that e-books do not have their place in our world. But, I am scared that the pleasure of a traditional book is getting lost in this fast, technological world we live in. Can you imagine a world without a library filled with actual books? Or a used bookstore with its musty pages and dusty air? Who really only wants to shop online for their books? Wouldn’t you miss strolling through a bookstore, browsing the books, flipping the pages? I know I would.

Perhaps I am being stubborn when I refuse to change the rules of my challenge…but part of the Chunkster Challenge is the celebration of TRADITIONAL books. Thick, juicy, wonderful, weighty traditional books. Perhaps the real challenge for many people will be to set aside the convenience of their e-reader and pick up an actual book and unplug. I hope that when they do, they will rediscover the joy of reading all over again.

**EDITED on January 8th to add this link to Love, Laughter, and A Touch of Insanity’s post about why SHE prefers the real thing to an electronic replication. She expresses things much better than I did!

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  1. For me, the reading experience isn’t the same on an e-Reader. I find it harder to keep track of characters, plot, etc and I’m not really sure why.

    • Megan on January 7, 2011 at 18:42

    Oh, I agree SO much with what you’ve said here, and such are the reasons that I didn’t ask for/receive an e-reader this past year for Christmas. Between working and blogging and my cell phone and my iPod and everything, I feel like I am *always* plugged in. I’m not saying there’s not a time and place for that, and I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy all the electronics in my life, but reading has always been my way to unplug. I DO find myself feeling overwhelmed and isolated despite being pretty much instantly available to anyone who might wish to communicate via a variety of means.

    Reading is an opportunity for me to get away from all the demands on my life that I associate with all my gadgets, a chance to slow down and savor something instead of rushing through, skimming, doing 5 things at once…like usual. I don’t want to read books the same way I read a blog or a webpage off a screen where I’m just glancing through to grab at the main points. I don’t want to have my reading reduced to another austere, utilitarian device. I want it to be a luxury and *feel* like a luxury, something to get lost in to escape from life’s pressures and I’m sure an e-reader, even with its many potential merits, won’t ever be able to do that for me like a book can. Great post!

  2. I totally agree with you on this subject. I think it will be a very sad world if real books ever go away. I was really against e-readers for a long time, but then I found out I could download my college textbooks on one so then I wanted one. I ended up winning a Sony Reader in late 2009, but I vowed that the only books I would pay for would be textbooks. So far, I have only read a few books on it and these were from publishers/authors for review. I have it loaded with a few books from the public domain, like Cranford, and books from Net Galley, but I still haven’t paid for a single book. I’m just not going to pay for a book that I can’t physically put on my shelf. And I didn’t end up doing my college textbooks because I’m not in school at the moment. I don’t mind reading on it, but I still will always prefer good ole, genuine, real, awesome smelling books….especially chunksters! So keep your rules the way they are. You won’t be getting a complaint from me when I sign up for the challenge, which will be very soon! I read a lot of chunksters so this is a no-brainer for me.

    • Kay on January 7, 2011 at 19:12

    Wendy, I agree with what you say in many ways. And yet, I love my Kindle and probably read 40-45% of my books on it. I’ll never give up books entirely for e-books, but I must admit that my eyes really like the font adjustment capability.

    My husband and I are going to be building a new house this year and we’ve been discussing whether to have a landline phone in the new one or not. Personally, I can’t imagine not having a “regular” phone number and resorting only to cell phones. I even still have kept one phone that is not powered by electricity. Guess I can let that one go now, but I hate to do it.

    And, yes, I love perusing the shelves at a used bookstore or the library. However, the next generation will be different I think – just as we are different from our grandparents’ generation.

    I’m reminded of a scene from one of the Star Trek movies where Captain Kirk is given a “real” book for his birthday. He is thrilled and amazed to be receiving such a valuable gift. All books were computerized. It’s where we are heading I’m afraid. Thanks for sharing about this topic!

  3. Yes we are losing it. I realized this year that while I do think we gain from ereading, we also lose. I think we will be losing a lot more and more. We are losing, for example, our bookstores. We are losing a certain way of life.

    I enjoy ereading. I can get caught up in the world, but books I truly value and treasure will always need to be in physical form for me.

    I always felt like we lost a lot when music went digital as well…we gained a lot, but we also lost a lot. And the same will happen with books. 🙁

    • Jaime on January 7, 2011 at 20:39

    But ultimately, isn’t reading about the story? When we review our books, we don’t talk about the quality of the paper or the weight of the book or how many hands it took to hold it up or how nicely the dust jacket is designed (unless it’s something notable).

    I read both electronically and in hard copy, have well over 1000 traditional books in my home, and still buy books regardless of how much I love my e-reader. But the majority of my reading is done outside the home, and lugging something like Stephen King’s UNDER THE DOME around town just isn’t feasible. As much as I love books, old and new, I don’t feel that I’m missing anything with e-books. Sometimes I think we romanticize material things too much.

    This isn’t to say I think you should change the rules of your challenge — that’s certainly your prerogative, and if someone disagrees they can start their own dang challenge 😉

    • raych on January 7, 2011 at 20:54

    I think you’ve hit on something with the convenience factor. Rightly or wrongly, we value things that are more difficult to get. I’ll read sooner a book for which I pay full price than a book I score for a dollar. I’m on the fence about ebooks, but I do think we lose an element of appreciation when we decrease the difficulty in accessing a book.

    Oddly, one of my reasons for getting an ereader would be Chunksters! So damned heavy!

  4. I can see where you’re coming from re: the Chunkster Challenge: reading those books on an e-reader, while it might have some physical advantages, would seem to be missing the point.

    I like my e-reader, but I do experience reading differently on it, and it’s hard for me to imagine that it will ever entirely replace physical books for me.

    • Amused on January 7, 2011 at 22:06

    I posted a similar thing yesterday. I bought a kindle for boyfriend for Christmas because his eyesight is poor and, while previously not into reading for the past few years, he is getting really into it thanks to the kindle and I’m thrilled. However, for me, an avid reader for my entire life, I have absolutely no desire to get an e-reader. I am for whatever promotes reading but for me, books, paper books, are what I want. I love the feel of them and I think I always will. I support your stand.

    • Jenny on January 8, 2011 at 01:25

    I think what you have to realise is that this excludes people from the challenge with particular disabilities or reading difficulties: those who are unable to read standard size print (large-print books can be hard to come by, and particularly for chunksters, just too large in size – this is a problem that my grandmother faces, who’s an enthusiastic reader) or are unable to wield large books, etc.

    Your commitment to traditional books notwithstanding, I think a lot of people will find your stance really disappointing on this basis.

    Whatever people’s motivations for buying a Kindle, it does provide more accessibility. Refusing to acknowledge this and insisting that everybody in your challenge – not just yourself – must stick to traditional books over e-books is a stance that you are privileged to be able to take. It’s a privileged position to be able to ignore the benefits of new technology to those who find the status quo difficult.

    Which is why I find your stance actually quite unpleasant and exclusionary. While consideration of this might not change your position, I think it’s disappointing that you so quickly discarded the idea that you are cutting people out from this challenge, and it’s really worth at least thinking about the fact that your own ease of access to traditional books has a big impact on this.

    • Jenny on January 8, 2011 at 01:37

    Apologies – I have now seen your rule amendment dealing with this, and think this is appropriate.

  5. Wendy, I definitely agree with you. The purpose of the chunkster challenge is to set aside our fear of huge books (and we do have them), pick one of these books up, dust them off, and read them. With an e-reader, a chunkster is the same as a novella or regular size book. There’s not a difference in size. I know one of the reasons why I haven’t signed up for the challenge yet is because a chunkster makes you dedicate a huge amount of time to it unlike other sized books. You’re doing the right thing.

    • Wendy on January 8, 2011 at 09:00

    Kathy: I really do think it is the tactile thing…and I also think that our brains are trained to read on a screen differently than on paper. For example, when I’m reading an article on line, I tend to skim more…I almost feel like speed is the thing. When I sit with an actual book, my brain just slows down a bit.

    Megan: Thanks for weighing in (no pun intended!). I’m glad what I wrote resonated so strongly with you…you are saying all the things that I feel too. Thank you.

    Michelle (True Book Addict): I can see where students would have an advantage by downloading textbooks (I remember the days when I was in college and there were no computers yet…lugging a backpack filled with heavy textbooks was exhausting!). But you make a good point that ereaders don’t replace an actual book in many circumstances. Thanks for dropping by!

    Kay: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We don’t even have the choice re: a land line telephone…cell phones don’t work up here in the mountains! Which is one of the things about technology…it can fail (when I was active in search and rescue I cringed when I heard people giving up their map and compass for a GPS…GPS signals do not always work in the woods…and then what happens if your battery dies and you don’t have a replacement??? I thought people should always know the basic, old standby to be fully assured they wouldn’t get lost). I’m sad when I think that electronics will wipe out the book in its most basic form. So I hope you’re wrong about that.

    • Wendy on January 8, 2011 at 09:08

    Amy: It’s funny you mention music…I was saying to Kip last night that it is so sad that the old LPs are gone. I agree, we are losing something. I wonder about the instant gratification of technology, the inability for anyone to go anywhere without being instantly connected to their electronic gadgets. I watched a young couple with two young kids (under the ages of 7) sitting in Starbucks the other day. The kids were sipping their cocoa, and both parents were immersed in their laptops. It made me sad to think that the connection here was electronic, and not with their kids. So, everyone thinks we are gaining so much all the time, but sometimes we are not stopping to think how much we are losing too. Thanks for your comment.

    Jaime: Fair enough that the reviews focus on story and not the physical aspects of the book…but I think one of the things is that even though we don’t review the physicality of the book, that physicality can add to our enjoyment of reading the story. I know for me, reading on line or digitally just feels entirely different …and not in a good way. I don’t think I’d read as much if I had to do it electronically. But, that is just me…and you are certainly entitled to your opinion! So thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    Raych: I agree that when something comes too easily we don’t really appreciate it. Reminds me of when I was a kid and every one was getting these very cool bicycles…which of course I wanted. My parents said “You have a bike, if you want THAT one, then save your money and buy it” I saved the money after months (doing household chores, helping neighbors, babysitting, etc…) and bought the bike. I loved it so much and I took better care of that bike than any bike I had ever owned because of the sweat it took me to get it.

    • Wendy on January 8, 2011 at 09:14

    Florinda: *nods* How would a chunkster look any different than a novella when it comes in this nice slim package? That’s my point exactly! thanks for stopping by 🙂

    Amused: Thanks for your support – I’ll drop by your blog and read your post about this topic!

    Jenny: I’m glad you went over to the challenge and saw the exception I’ve now implemented. It has never been my intention to exclude those with disability…I’m a physical therapist and I am certainly sensitive to the challenges of the disabled. I had not really considered that the rule would mean disabled readers couldn’t participate…but as soon as I realized that, I made the exception.

    Vasilly: Thanks for your support. Challenges are not supposed to be easy, they’re supposed to be challenges…which is one reason I’m being stubborn about this. And you bring up an excellent point – lots of people avoid the chunkster because they fear the size. An e-reader does not have the size.

    • Jeane on January 8, 2011 at 11:12

    I agree with your reasons for not getting an e-reader. I’ve always found the physical aspect of holding a book part of the pleasure in reading. And although I don’t always mention it in a review, I do notice things like the cover art, the texture and scent of the pages, etc. But I’ve quickly noticed that reading long passages of text on a computer screen really strains my eyes and lessens my attention span- which is another reason I’ve never felt tempted to try an e-reader. I understand the ease of convenience it is for other people though- it’s always a huge dilemma for me deciding which books to pack when I travel, there’s never enough space/weight allowance in the suitcase!

  6. Great post, to which I’d add a couple of points.
    Firstly, e-readers invite distraction. Real books are more of a commitment.
    Secondly, technology is an invitation to obsolescence . Books last hundreds of years.
    Thirdly, e-readers are a recipe for disaster in schools. They won’t last five minutes.

    • Cheryl on January 8, 2011 at 12:46

    My husband wanted a Kindle for his birthday, because he thought it would be a way that he could keep technical documents or books at hand. I’ve downloaded a few public domain books to it as well, and some Creative Commons ones which are not available in print.

    It’s better than reading on a computer (or a smart phone – gah!), and it was awesome when I had my eyes dilated at an eye exam. I completely recommend it for anyone with vision or strength issues. And it wasn’t a bad reading experience, overall.

    But it is just not physically satisfying in the way that books are. Now that I’ve tried it, I find that I am craving real books more, and even reading more.

    I’m also old-fashioned, or just old, enough to think that if I pay $10 for something, I should receive something, and not just the promise of digital access to something. I would have a very hard time paying that much for an e-book.

  7. I’m with you Wendy…I love the experience of reading an actual book. The feel, the cover, everything about actual books call to me. And don’t get me started about libraries and how ereaders will affect them. I have to admit that the idea of reading books to my children on an ereader makes me cringe…I will never stop buying them books to surround themselves with. And although I may be outdated I will probably always prefer actual books when it comes to reading.

    • Pete on January 8, 2011 at 18:02

    As recent converts are often the most fervent, I feel that I should jump in here and say that I have resisted e-books for years. Even living in China where good English books are a rare commodity, I still insisted on reading actual, physical books. Like you (and most of the participants here), I thought that there would be something missing by reading off of some digital device. Then I ended up with a Sony reader and my reading world changed completely. No longer do I have to wait for my annual trip back to the US to find a book that is recommended to me. As a person who moves frequently, my hundreds (literally) of pounds of books might stop growing and being a massive, massive inconvenience (I’ve recently moved and my books account for about 80% of my worldly possessions). I no longer have to lug a 5 pound clunker onto the subway and risk a sprained wrist from trying to read while simultaneously trying to keep track of my briefcase and hold on to the railing for dear life. It certainly does come down to convenience and that little contraption has made my life much more convenient and actually adds to my reading experience. I should also add that, in my case at least, an e-book reader doesn’t really lead to distractions – it does little else other than display text. No internet or video capability, just words on a screen which remarkably mimics actual paper and ink.

    I won’t ever give up books entirely. I still have a massive collection including a number of books that I haven’t yet read. But, owning an e-reader has completely changed my perspective and I’m not sure that my habits will ever go back to the way they were.

    PS – I’ve been a lurker around this site for a while, but this is my first comment. Great blog and great discussion here!

    • Wendy on January 9, 2011 at 11:05

    Jeane: You make some good points. I love cover art (in fact, I sometimes buy a book JUST because I love its cover!). The convenience on a long trip is a good point (especially since the airlines now limit travelers to one checked bag under 50 pounds)…but like you, I think my eyes would tire on an e-reader.

    Simon: I love your three point! And yes, the idea of something just being electronically saved is sad to me – I think of those great old books sitting in the antique books section of libraries and I wonder how we can even think about a world without the physical book.

    Cheryl: Exactly! I’m noticing that for the most part, even if people are recognizing some benefits with e-books, many readers still want the physical book. That’s a good thing!!

    Samantha: You bring up a great point about reading to kids – some of my favorite memories are my dad reading me a favorite book when I was a child. Reading on an e-reader to a child seems lacking somehow.

    Pete: Thanks for coming out of lurkdom and commenting…and thanks for being a loyal reader of my blog! Your situation seems like the most obvious one for using an e-reader…you live in a country where books are hard to come by, and you travel a lot. I could see myself (begrudgingly) using an e-reader in that situation. But, I am also happy to hear you say you will never give up your physical books!

  8. I’m one of the dissenters here, but I’m glad to be having the discussion! For me, it’s about personal preference. I prefer the reading experience on my Kindle, which is not backlit (one of my favorite features). For me, the words on the page are crisper, and I can read longer. I also like the reading screen. I find when I read print books my eyes jump around the two pages while I’m reading. On the Kindle, there isn’t as much text visible, so I find myself reading more quickly because I can hone my focus better. (I think this is unique to me: no one I talk to seems to have this jumpy eye syndrome!)

    I also read on the go a lot (I’m a bus rider), so convenience is certainly a piece of it for me, but it’s certainly not the most important piece.

    I love the ability to take notes and highlight passages within the reader. When I read print books (and I do, because I could not possibly afford to buy all of my books), I am pulled away from the book when I write down favorite passages to use in my review. On my Kindle, I can highlight more quickly and stay deeper inside the book with the characters. I also appreciate the dictionary. I read mostly literary fiction, and there are words I don’t know. With my Kindle, I simply move the cursor to the word and its definition appears on the screen. I confess, I rarely actually look up definitions when I read in print; it takes too much time. I should read with a dictionary at hand, but I don’t. In this sense, reading on my Kindle helps me more fully understand difficult or challenging texts.

    I know some people will never embrace e-readers, but I love mine. I’m also a simple person: I gave up purchasing print books years ago. I’m relatively young, and my husband and I have lived in four states in the five years we’ve been together (and we’ve been here for 2.5 years). After living in four corners of this country, the delight of print books in my personal collection was gone. I’m content knowing I can get a copy at a library should I ever want to re-read one. I’m a frequent library user (and librarian), but given the choice (and money), I’m an e-reader, and I think it’s made me a better, more observant, deeper reader. I know it’s not for everyone, but I neither are print books. I don’t think of my Kindle as an electronic device akin to my smartphone or computer. It’s what lets me immerse myself in another world for hours and forget about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, email and text messages.

    • Wendy on January 9, 2011 at 16:28

    Carrie: Thanks for weighing in on the “debate”…it is good to hear from the other side of the argument…and I can see the positive points you mention probably being something other e-readers also enjoy. I have a feeling that younger readers are more open to reading e-books (partly because they have always grown up with the electronics, I think…when I went to college we didn’t even have computers!!! Just typewriters 🙂 ). And many people mention that if they move a lot they like not having all the physical books to pack up and lug around.

  9. A Great post! Reading on an eReader is such a different experience. For me, now the eReader is a way to read ePub books from publishers. I do find it easier to review physical books, making notes etc. Which is funny since I can highlight passages in my ereader, I personally find it just a bit cumbersome. But as much as I love my eReader, I still love the feel of a hefty book in my hands. And as far as the Chunkster Challenge, that’s the purpose of the challenge- to embrace a nice weighty book in ones own hands…

    I just hope that physical books don’t go the way of the eight track!

  10. I always prefer to read a printed book but when I travel to Europe on business I just can’t carry all of the books I want to have with me on the trip. My Kindle has saved my life and given me much comfort when I am stuck at an airport somewhere or in a foreign country. But when I am at home I always choose a printed book.

    • Serena on January 11, 2011 at 10:29

    I have to agree here that e-readers make me feel too plugged in…when I read, I want to escape my daily routines (i.e. the computer screen) and just be absorbed in another world…a world I can hold in my hands between binding!

    • Andi on January 11, 2011 at 15:10

    I certainly know what you’re talking about, and while I’m in on the Chunkster Challenge and would love to read e-books for it, I get why they’re not a part of the challenge. The irony here is that I JUST posted my thoughts and undying devotion for e-books. However, I do admit they don’t replace paper books. For me lately they’ve offered me a chance to read more efficiently and not give up on books so quickly when I’m brain-drained from work and pressed for time with the new baby and all. I really feel like they’ve given me a new lease on reading when I was having troubles before.

    Great post, Wendy! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I’ve toyed with getting a Kindle or a Nook but have resisted so far. Mostly because I think they’re going to get better and better and cheaper at the same time. I have so many books here at home that I can’t really justify it yet. I also use my library extensively.

    However, my sister loves hers. BUT she doesn’t live in the US and hasn’t for over 2 years. It’s essential for her and I love giving her gift certificates to Amazon so she can get e-books. She’s in New Zealand right now, but she’s traveling the world extensively and doesn’t always have access to English books at all. She’s the one I visited when I went to Argentina. So I believe the Kindle is a godsend to people who travel or wouldn’t otherwise have access to English books. I know I’ll get one eventually, but as I said, I can’t justify it right now at all.

    That said, any challenge host has the right to any rules he/she wants for a challenge. It bothers me a bit that some people are crying ‘not fair’ when it truly is up to you as the challenge host. I’m glad you’re your own woman and sticking to your guns, Wendy.

    • Trish on January 16, 2011 at 09:12

    Thanks, Wendy, for the link. What you say about ebooks lacking life is exactly how I feel as well. There is something so personal about a physical book, but I’m also finding that not everyone has this connection to books that I do. I can look at the hundreds of books on my shelf and each one in some way or another tells a story about me or someone else. Even the ones I haven’t read yet. All of that is lost with ebooks. And people say that paper books aren’t going anywhere, but I fear that one day–maybe not in our lifetime but in another–they will. Oh, it’s saddening. I’m off now to go hug some of my physical books… 😉

    • Wendy on January 16, 2011 at 17:10

    Suzanne: I have been offered some e-books for review and I’ve turned them down (actually I added a no e-book clause to my review policy because I just don’t want to read them!!) I like to use sticky notes in my books and it works for me 🙂 I too hope the physical book sticks around.

    Kathleen: I think one of the best arguments for e-books is for travel. When I travel, half my weight of luggage is books (it seems)!

    Serena: Looks like you and I completely agree!!

    Andi: I went over and read your post and I can see your points. I think it is interesting that even those readers like yourself who enjoy the e-book, don’t really want to see physical books disappear.

    Michelle: Another great argument for the e-book that I keep hearing is the one you presented (readers living in countries where it is hard to get books). I am glad you are supportive of a challenge host making their own “rules!” Truthfully, I am a little baffled at the anger against this particular rule. I’m not forcing anyone to join, nor am I stopping anyone from reading e-books (they just don’t count for the challenge). It seems like a non-issue to me except for those with disability (and now I’ve made exceptions for those readers).

    Trish: You’re welcome! I loved your post. It does seem like not everyone is as enamored of their physical books as we are!!!

  12. Your thoughtful essay has helped me put some thoughts together on the subject of actual versus virtual reading and –the big picture: humanism versus posthumanism. I have cited this posting in my blog (http://www.scudding-under-bare-poles.com/ ).

    • Wendy on January 23, 2011 at 20:48

    Austen: Thank you for weighing in on the discussion and for siting my post on your blog.

    • Michael on January 24, 2011 at 06:15

    I know I am a little late to this conversation, but the topic fascinates me so I thought I’d step into the pool…
    I think it will be really interesting to go back to these conversations in a few years. Because I believe that many more folks, including many staunch “traditionalists,” will have gravitated to different versions of e-books. I do not think printed text will disappear, ever, much in the same way that LPs endure, albeit at a more modest level.
    Consider: This entire conversation is on a blog on the internet. Twenty years ago that is not happening and the individuals collected here do not even know one another. But we have collectively embraced this new medium. We watch television and movies online, and while we might still love going to the movies or visiting the video store, we hardly think of this as tragic. Similarly, I see the same slow uptick with e-readers and e-books. I highly doubt they will be the ONLY way to read — and there are likely to be many more evolutions of the darn things — but they will become increasingly more common. After all, I don’t read too many lamentations about how sad it is that the ipod replaced the discman. Also, interesting to consider, the e-version of a book is pretty much the way 90% of books look like on an author’s computer or at the publisher. Even for those who still write longhand, they have to get it transcribed into a digital format so the publisher can produce the book. Which of course is when they ADD the page numbers.
    Regardless of your delivery system, however, I wish you all happy reading!

    • Wendy on January 25, 2011 at 17:34

    Michael: It is never too late to join the conversation – thanks for weighing in. I do think books are a little different from movies and even LPs because historically books have been around thousands of years in various forms – and hundreds of years in book form (the way we are used to them now). There is something more precious about a written book, then an LP (in my opinion). I do understand the point you are making, but I still hope that paper books exceed digital books in the future 🙂

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