It’s been a while since I’ve gone off on e-books, perhaps because I’ve become resigned to the fact that they are already thoroughly embedded in the modern book market. It is a feeling very much like the pressure exerted by my American Heritage Dictionary when it’s propped against my chest, except I love that feeling. That’s a hug rather than a shove, with an e-, or the invariable e-mptiness that comes from every digital book weighing somewhere between 5.98 and 18.9 ounces, depending on the Kindle model you’re sporting. Where’s the satisfaction in that? It’s a bit like logging into Second Life rather than just taking a trip downtown. I thought, then, that I’d offer three arguments as to why print books are the best books, in case you needed reminding.
1. THEIR LONG HISTORY
Here’s a glimpse into book production in 1947, which will captivate any book lover’s attention the way Mr. Rogers did when he showed children how Crayons were manufactured:
2. JONATHAN FRANZEN HATES E-BOOKS
In a recent article in The Telegraph, author Jonathan Franzen articulates what most book-book readers feel about the advantages of physical books, citing, among other things, the comfort of permanent pages and the magic of print.
“The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It’s a bad business model,” said Franzen, who famously cuts off all connection to the internet when he is writing.
“I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change.
“Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don’t have a crystal ball.
“But I do fear that it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.”
Speaking at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia, Franzen argued that e-books, such as Amazon’s Kindle, can never have the magic of the printed page.
He said: “The Great Gatsby was last updated in 1924. You don’t need it to be refreshed, do you?
“Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that’s reassuring.
“Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough.”
“Jonathan Franzen: e-books are damaging society” by Anita Singh The Telegraph
Thank you, Mr. Franzen. For more damages, please read this excellent article published by The Author’s Guild detailing just how the industry has been rattled by the emergence of e-books. Humph.
3. SPEAKING OF MAGIC…
The Oscar nominated short, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, says it all: