Please Read Carefully

A full-page ad on the back of the November issue of Smithsonian magazine caught my attention recently. It showed a stack of first edition books; the copy read, Paper: because it’ll be remembered longer. Bit of a fragment really—better than what? Apparently the word the sponsor wants us to fill in the blank with is digital files, more specifically ebooks. This would be the equivalent of the National Species Ad Council running a promotion, “Homo erectus has existed for over a hundred-thousand years and homo sapien has just arrived, so let’s all stick with the proven winner. Well, we know how that turned out.

It’s interesting how often I read or hear something that proclaims, “This is bad.” And far too many of us just agree, “Oh man, that’s bad and we have to really hate this and love that.” It seems silly but I think we all take things at face value from time to time without really taking the time to read things carefully. But the ebook debate, a debate I simply don’t think needs to exist, rages on.

I read a comment on a blog post where the author was sharing her list of failed digital storage devises, saying that her paper books were still fine but her digital backups were gone. She was failing to point out how many paper books have been destroyed by age, fire, water, wind, sand, and hungry sasquatches over the ages. Frankly paper books, well cared for, can last a very long time, but paper is pretty darn delicate. I’ve lost lots of paper books over the years through a variety of mishaps. Overall paper books have lasted hundreds and hundreds of years because there were people who took care to preserve them. The very same can be done for digital formats. As a writer I’m fairly obsessed with backing up, and with so many storage options available, including the free online opportunities, by sheer numbers I have no doubt that digital files will be well preserved for the ages.

But the list of ill-conceived ebook conclusions is long and often comes from people much more intelligent then me, but we are all susceptible to our personal leanings. A friend of mine recently commented about an ad she saw where they touted that one can read an ebook in direct sunlight, and then observed that you can read a paper book in direct sunlight as well. True, but the statement fails to include the long list of things that one can do with an ebook reader than can’t be done with a traditional paper book. A co-worker of mine, while discussing some possible new URLs for Tricorner Publishing, suggested,; perhaps she doesn’t realize that you hold an ebook as well.

OK, I’ll wrap this up. The real debate should be why is there a debate at all? Why does it have to be either-or? Why does it always have to be war? I have lots and lots of paper books, many of which are special to me. I take great care of them, treasure them, and never plan to give them up. But I still get an excited tingle every time I turn on my Kindle too.


4 Responses to “Please Read Carefully”

  1. concernedcitizen March 3, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    you forgot that you are living proof that ther are still a few homo erecti lurking about. having said that, I agree, My cookbooks wear out prematurely because I can’t resist licking the pictures, whereas my kindle screen stands up to worse abuse. I love the feel of a “real” book in my hand but also love the convenience of an E-book. They’re especially great for someone who travels often. Imagine hauling your library around with you wherever you went and let’s not forget that airlines are cracking down on luggage size and weight. A few softcover books in your suitcase could cost you an extra $50 in overweight fees.
    So I think an e-reader is a great addition to anyone’s library, just don’t drop it in the toilet.

  2. SuperNerd March 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    I think that ebooks should come with air fresheners that include “new book smell” and “really really really really old book smell,” although the latter sometimes upsets my stomach when I read an older book and just get a whiff of that old book smell. I definitely prefer a hard copy of a book for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean that ebooks are ‘bad.’ Your pages don’t get wrinkled or stained, you can have multiple books on one device, and it is going to last a lot longer for most people (unless they drop the device repeatedly, throw it in a pool, or accidentally set it on fire with their mind.) Overall, both have their merits and weaknesses, and it just comes down to the personal preference of the reader.

    • RiFT March 4, 2011 at 12:23 am #

      Well said.

  3. Suchmaschine Optimierung March 4, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    great post very good informations thank you man 😉