* A Little Joke (Voila)
To paraphrase news anchor Kent Brockman, “I for one welcome our new e-book overlords.”
** The Aesthetic
While I love the feel, the smell, the heft of a physical book, I just want the story—a good one, mind you—whether delivered via paper pulp or through the wire. There’s a convenience factor I must acknowledge as well. My wife and I erected a new bookshelf a few weeks ago (shelf # 3). Within hours, we filled the new shelf to about 98% capacity—there’s a small space after my unread New Yorkers, perhaps the size of a Norton anthology, or three paperbacks. And this was after we reviewed our small library, deciding on at least 50 titles we could remove and donate (marriage begets, among other things, duplicate copies). Space is a premium for now and, until we acquire our dream house with its dream library (imagine four walls of books), utilizing our hard drives is quickly becoming a necessity.
The rise of the ebook is far from a zero-sum game, as if its popularity spells doom for the physical book (“doom”, in this case, is reserved for publishers, if you believe them). For now, I blame Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and other e-reader creators who also control the content distribution. Let’s simplify the argument: until I can take an ebook off the shelf, give it to someone and, eighteen months later, hunt down the individual until she gives back the ebook, the physical book is in no danger of extinction. In other words, publishers and distributors would be wise to consider the e-book as an alternative format only.
I’m sure the publishers are behind the DRM-locked content and the prevention of legal, unfettered sharing. I’m not a pirate, I’m not a library and I’m not Blockbuster; sometimes, I simply give books away, like the 50 titles my wife and I donated. Just in case it gets lost in the book/ebook, rabbit season/duck season rhetoric, e-books haven’t dominated just yet. And there’s no reason they need to supplant physical books, in the way one can still obtain compact discs or DVDs; if people are willing to buy physical books, and remain leery of losing their entire library to a computer glitch or a sneaky virus, then e-books will remain an alternative, secondary format—that is, until publishers offer digital copies along with their physical counterparts. I’m not buying the same book twice.
**** Whisper Sync (aka Beam Me Up)
“I love Bookstores and I love my bookshelves. But my God…read a review online, buy it, then have it beamed to my iPad? Glorious.”Â