Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ode to the Paperback

This is a great article on why the paperback is better than an e-book! Long live the REAL book! This author says (and I agree):
Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Trust me, it'll be like that damn fly. In a short time there will be a little "pock!" and we'll all get back to the proper business of buying proper books with which you can kill flies and clunk your kids round the back of the head.

Why? Because paperbacks are perfect as they are. Not for nothing has the technology remained more or less unchanged for 550 or so years. As someone pointed out recently, if Johannes Gutenberg were alive today, he would easily recognise his invention. This is because books are like sharks and platypuses - they remained unchanged because they have reached evolutionary perfection. If it ain't broke and all that …

That's not to say that e-books won't have a place in the brave new publishing world. There must surely be a need for them among students who have to lug around back-breaking backpacks full of Quantum Mechanics Made Simple and The Collected Works of William Shakespeare. Of course, this will be bad news for chiropractors, who will go out of business in droves. (Mind you, is chiropracty all it's cracked up to be?)

For those of us who read books (I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but it should be) there's nothing quite like:
■ Rediscovering an old friend of the dustier shelves and getting reacquainted (Catch-22);
■ Lending a book to a friend because you think they will enjoy it (Darkly Dreaming Dexter);
■ Getting it back;
■ Giving copies of your favourite books (To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord Of The Flies, No Country For Old Men, anything by Chuck Palahniuk) to your children and hoping they'll get as much joy out of them as you did. Then maybe, one day, they'll take it down from their bookshelf, pass it on to their children and say, "My Dad gave me this." It's just as Kahlil Gibran wrote: "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." And if, like Robin Hood, you can attach a little written note to your arrow, all the better.

Try doing that with an e-book.

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