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The Great Debate Rages On

POSTED BY prbythebook ON February 15, 2012

-Emily Southard-Bond

Which side are you on?

I’m not writing about the heated political debates this election year –I’m referring to a conflict that’s leaving many in the book industry befuddled or decidedly decided: To eBook, or to not eBook.

Jonathan Franzen, the bestselling American author, has spoken out against the glowing eBooks during a literary festival in Cartagena, Colombia. Believing the electronic readers to be cumbersome, prone to coffee spills and a “con” on the unsuspecting consumer. Insisting that the erratic need for new technology isn’t a matter of convenience, but actually an elaborate con on the average consumer. Franzen’s argument is both tempting and elegant, noting you’ll never need to “refresh,” The Great Gatsby in hardcopy form. But does it make sense? Is it logical to continue to buy physical books?

I mentioned in an earlier post something about my recent addiction to the YA teen saga, Twilight. Let’s just say that in the past week I’ve made quite a dent in the series buying both the eBooks and paperbacks. And in a quick study assessment I agree with Franzen on a few points. I have, given my terribly clumsy nature, spilled multiple liquid contents onto both reading devices, thankfully neither have broken. On the point of cost, the paperback cost a dollar more than the eBook. As far as the tactile experience, my Nook is the clear winner. I apologize Mr. Franzen, but I agree with Tom Chiver’s from the Telegraph-you’re dead wrong.  Well, that is to say, when it comes to drawing such divisive lines on the subject. Chivers recently wrote a rebuttal to Franzen’s position on eReaders.

I enjoy reading books on my Nook, very much, but I also enjoy reading them the old-fashioned way too. As far as the matter of preference is concerned, ignoring nostalgia, the eReader is less cumbersome to handle in bed, on the couch, outside, inside and in any light (given you can adjust the brightness). I’ve grown to thoroughly enjoy reading eBooks. And while preparing for a move, I have to say, I’m glad to have donated a large portion of the books my husband and I own. Books can very difficult and heavy to move.

I still have dreams of sitting in an impressive library, with a ladder that wheels from ancient leather bound text to the next. And maybe someday that library with its deep smells of well-worn backs and pages will become a reality, but for now the eReader fits quite nicely in my home without any renovations required.  My point being, I currently prefer the eReader, but it’s just that-a preference, and one that changes from book to book. For instance, I wouldn’t enjoy the experience of looking at the images from my favorite coffee-table book, 1000°C Deyrolle, (and the happiness I get from guests discovering the book in my living room) through a tiny device. The images from that particular book are taken after a fire ravaged the renowned French curiosities shop. Beautiful, and extravagant pieces of taxidermy, peculiar collectables, ancient maps, and butterflies were left either completely singed or some simply blushed with black from the catastrophic fire. It’s a breathtaking book, one that requires quiet moments and the comfort of holding something familiar while hit from the shock and awe of it’s pages. A book I certainly enjoying sharing, and in a very specific form.

An eReader is a more intimate device, one with passwords and such, they’re less inviting than say a book deliberately left out for everyone to enjoy. Again, I’m reminded of my post on Twilight, I would prefer every guest that comes through my home to not shuffle through my eBooks. I don’t mind if they browse the ones on display. And I wonder if that will become the true path of hardcopy books, will they simply be our display items, toys for guests, nostalgic relics like a type-writer or a record player?

Both Franzen and Chivers have their points, and musing on which is best becomes almost silly to someone attached to both. I hate to see the reasoning behind printing books diminish completely, but I’m also not prepared to ignore the ease and convenience of eBooks.  Why not eat your cake and enjoy it too? And truthfully, if I were an author…I’m not sure I would be terribly concerned with which form of book you prefer, as long as you’re buying books!

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Will you sign my Nook, Please?

POSTED BY prbythebook ON October 20, 2011
Will you sign my Nook, Please?

By Emily Southard-Bond I’m a purge fanatic. Any move or spring-cleaning involves me loading up copious amounts of baskets and boxes to donate. I have a deep hatred for clutter and am particularly horrified by the sight of knick-knacks. And although I would love to someday build unique furniture out of used books, a la […]

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You can run, but you can’t hide much longer. E-readers are taking over.

POSTED BY doug ON July 21, 2010
You can run, but you can’t hide much longer. E-readers are taking over.

It was going to happen eventually….and those of us who are reluctant to follow the e-book trend will soon be left with little choice than to adopt the technically-savvy method of reading books. The New York Times reported yesterday that Amazon sales of books for the Kindle has topped those of hardcovers for three months […]

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Oh my God, I think I want a Kindle

POSTED BY doug ON May 21, 2010
Oh my God, I think I want a Kindle

Friends, I’m going to be straight with you. Ever since excited whispers starting bubbling up in the book industry about the Amazon Kindle way back when, I adopted my very first willfully stodgy stance on new technology. “Download all of your reading material onto a SCREEN? Blech! I prefer to read my Kafka in print, […]

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