Dave Pezza ignited a Writer’s Bone debate with this rant against the e-book. Be sure to read Matt DiVenere’s argument in favor of e-books after this!
Okay, I've been putting this off for too long.
E-books. It's time to fuck e-books right up.
Let's first address the elephant in the room: Amazon. Amazon has cornered the e-book business, buying up rights to classics. What worries me about this is a Nazi-era hording of texts by one company. Who knows what can happen to those rights now. Obviously, Amazon isn't burning books—in fact its publishing books in what it would have us believe is a medium more conducive to widespread readership. However, it still makes me shutter like the scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where Indy dies inside as Germans torch books at a Hitler rally.
I suppose my more logical problem with e-readers and e-books is based in an American cultural plague of convenience. E-books don't add to the reading experience. Digital text on a screen adds no more to the experience that having a physical book in your hand. In fact, it diminishes it. You are unable to annotated or underline text without becoming aggravated with the tiny or nonexistent keyboard.
Bookmarks would be non-existent! If you are a true reader, bookmarks mean the world to you. They do for me. My current bookmark is thin piece of wood that has been smoothed and polished from the Monticello gift shop. "I cannot live without books" has been engraved into the wood! It's not like film, where visual effects have become better and the physical limits of film tape can be corrected by digital means. An e-reader simply simulates a book for the asinine convenience of being able to have a hundred books at your fingertips, which defeats the purpose of reading, in my opinion.
Read Jonathan Franzen's essay "Reader in Exile" from his essay collection How to Be Alone (an interesting book he wrote around the turn of the century that ended up forecasting everything that would occur culturally in the U.S. in the following 10 years). Franzen's thesis is that reading teaches how you how to be alone. It forces you to be comfortable with yourself alone in a room with just a book. I can't see how that is possibly with an e-book, especially with Wi-Fi, hundreds of applications, and all that poppy-cock (so glad I got to use that word).
And the carbon footprint argument is bullshit. Granted, print books should be more readily recycled, and cotton paper needs to drum up a better following, but what is the carbon footprint for making a Kindle? All that plastic, metal, and whatnot? The Kindle is manufactured in China in a factory I'm sure that pumps more pollution into the Chinese air.
I can hear it now: "Yeah, but you only buy one, and that's it." What about the Kindle Fire or whatever those marketing sell-outs call the second, third, and fourth generation Kindle models? What about Apple constantly upgrading its software, causing old models to be unable to operate with all the updated bells and whistles? Is all this worth the extreme convenience of being able to carry 100 books instead of one? All I know is that I can only read one word, in one sentence, in one paragraph, in one chapter, in one book at a time.
But maybe I'm just old fashion.
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