What we accepted about paperbooks
I’m starting to see a whole new set of people considering e-book readers with the introduction of the “Kindle 3″.
As an inveterate booklover, I’ve addressed this a few times before. I have something like ten thousand paperbooks in my home, some of them are over one hundred years old, and I’m a former bookstore manager.
I don’t miss anything not buying new paperbooks.
I talked about the relative values of p-books and e-books in this one:
I addressed it in a humor piece with:
Since the issue has come up again (and will later, when prices drop more and when color comes in, among other times), I thought I’d approach it from a different angle.
We get used to things.
We get so used to things, we can become actually blind to them.
As an educator, I run into that frequently. I can ask people to use something (let’s say, a button on a computer screen) that has been on the screen in front of them every day for years…and they literally can’t see it. I have to point to it or tap on it or explain precisely where it is.
The same thing goes with problems. If they never change, we simply accommodate ourselves to them…and completely forget about them.
WARNING: IF YOU READ THE NEXT PARAGRAPH, YOUR LIFE MAY CHANGE FOREVER…SERIOUSLY.
I read a great science short story years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of it or who wrote it…if you recognize it, feel free to let me know. Anyway, this character wakes up one morning. He just has the sense that something is missing in the room. He’s trying to figure it and trying to figure it out, and he finally realizes. What’s missing…is the blurry outline of your nose you can always see. He has become invisible. After reading this, you will probably find at random times during the rest of your life that you are suddenly aware of seeing your nose.
END OF LIFE-CHANGING PARAGRAPH
Back with me? Good. If you did read the paragraph, don’t forget, I warned you.
So, let’s take a look, a real look, at what we accepted and pretty much forgot about the negatives of paperbooks:
- You accepted that, you had to choose which ones to take with you when you went out (I always had at least two, to avoid the horror of finishing a book and not having another one before I got back from the grocery store).
- You accepted that, as your eyes got worse as you got older (not everyone’s do, of course), you are going to need more and more powerful glasses.
- You accepted that, when you moved, either your friends were going to hate you, or you were going to pay a moving company a lot of money.
- You accepted that, when you wanted to find a quotation in something you read years ago, you might have to flip through it page by page.
- You accepted that, if the house burned down or got flooded or animals got to your books, nobody would replace them for free for you
- You accepted that, when a super-hot book came out that two people in your family wanted to read, you either had to take turns or buy two copies
- You accepted that, when you wanted to own a classic book, you had to pay for it
- You accepted that, if you wanted to keep your books, you had to pay for bookshelves (if you wanted to keep them handy) and rent/mortgage/property taxes/the storage place to keep them…for the rest of your life
- You accepted that, you probably couldn’t even read them once without damaging them (especially paperbacks)
- You accepted that, if you didn’t know what a word or phrase meant, you had to go to another book or a computer to find out
- You accepted that, you couldn’t read the book while you were driving
- You accepted that, if you left them in the garage or basement, your books might really smell!
- You accepted that, especially if they were paperbacks, they were probably going to fall apart no matter what you did
- You accepted that, you either had to drive some place to get them or wait for them to come in the mail
- You accepted that trees, toxic chemicals, and gasoline we’re generally going to be used to get books to you
- You accepted that, you only had a limited time to buy the book new before it went out of print…and then you had to search for it
- You accepted that, which books you got to read was largely up to the big publishers
- You accepted that getting books to disadvantaged areas was an on-going, resource intensive activity that some places and people couldn’t afford
- You accepted that you couldn’t annotate in the book without damaging the book
Let me be clear, I love paperbooks! I still love going into my floor to ceiling library and just soaking in that they are there. I love taking a book off the shelf and flipping through it.
I also accept the following things about e-books;
- I accept that you need to have a device on which to read them, and that may be a considerable initial investment and on-going expense over time
- I accept that not all books are available on all devices
- I accept that I can’t get an autographed copy (but they’ll figure that out at some point)
- I accept that I can’t sell them or give them away
- I accept that they can’t match the current quality of illustrations (but I think that will change)
- I accept that publishers can prevent me from doing non-infringing things with my books
- I accept that I need to use electricity to be able to get and read my books
- I accept that there are millions of books that are not available in e-book form
- I accept that I have to be somewhat more careful with my e-book reader than with a paperbook
Well, those are a few of the things that come to my mind. Anything that particularly strikes you that I didn’t say? Feel free to let me know.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.