In my last post I briefly touched on the subject of e-books. Well, I didn’t so much touch upon it, as glance at it from a great distance through a pair of high-powered binoculars. Something akin to a stalker of conversation points; it’s like birdwatching but metaphorical. That and my tea is in a mug as opposed to a Thermos. There’s still sandwiches though. Sandwiches with pickle.
Now I suspect I should attempt to capture the aforementioned lesser-spotted speckled conversation point with my net of bilious words and angry grammar lest it dash off into the bushes or get eaten by a cat. It is at this point my metaphor begins to shake violently and collapse in upon its own absurdity.
So e-books then…
I must confess, I’m not a fan. Ordinarily I am a rabid and militant supporter of the relentless march of technological advancement. I want to see it push the boundaries of understanding, conquer poorly constructed and outdated ethics and bring us the glories of the future. It’s just I don’t like technology edging too far into the realm of books. It’s like being in favour of animal testing, right up until the point when someone tries to drag your cat off to a lab. I understand the merits and advantages of the entire affair, but I just can’t seem to welcome them with open arms. Yes, it is wonderful that we can now compress thousands of books onto a little chip the size of a postage stamp and then stick them on a magical, arcane device a mere fraction of the size of a normal book. It just doesn’t seem right. It seems cold. Cold and dead. Admittedly it wonderfully circumnavigates the primary complaint I have with overly large books, but I find that it robs reading of its joy. You don’t get to experience the warmth of the book in your hands. the soft rustling of the pages as you flick through them, nor that deep, earthy scent they hold when they’re new. E-book readers are cold and smell of metal and plastic. More reminiscent of a sinister operating theatre than something friendly and organic.
I applaud the quality of those E-Ink displays and marvel at the technological ingenuity behind them. They triumph over the gamma glare of LCD monitors that makes me so loathe reading large blocks of text on a computer. (That sort of think that normally makes my eyes bleed). I praise the opportunity the e-book world has afforded small or independent publishers allowing them to distribute their works to more people at a fraction of the cost. I laud the potential for environmentalism, for the manufacture of paper has ever been enslaved by the simian menace of chemical foulness.
But Gods be dammed these things aren’t books. Perhaps even at the tender age of twenty-something and a bit I am too set in my ways, too adverse to the prospect of change to accept the e-book world as its own sovereign entity. Perhaps I’m just too much of a romantic when it comes to books. I like the heft of a good book and how they look sitting on a bookcase. They’re old friends. They’re dependable. They last. They don’t need such trivial things as electricity. They don’t suffer from the quirks of circuitry. They do, however, still suffer quite badly when immersed in water.
For now I shall remain firmly in the corner of the printed word, squarely facing off against its electronic brother in a battle which will more than likely leave one dead. My stance may be hypocritical. It may be ill-informed. It’s sure as hell far too quixotic for my own good. But I shall continue to stand firm and look askance at these foul and evil usurpers who seek the throne of the book.