Apparently there is some sort of culture war between those who read on ereaders and those who read paper books. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately as it has to do with the release of the Stephen King book and how this book must be experienced in a certain way. Or something. You can read more about it here, here, and here.
I don’t know. I don’t get the reasoning. But apparently, other people do. And boy does it make them angry when they think about this book, or any book, as pixels on a screen rather than ink on a page. Even though it’s the same words telling the same story. I think this represents nothing more than a fear of change or technology and elitism. Like always, I don’t appreciate being told what to do. And I especially don’t like being told how to do it.
So even though it is my personal opinion to prefer paper books, I do love my ereader and am excited about the future of ebooks.
First, it’s just practical. Look at my bookshelf:
This is one of many (though all others are more tidy). And I don’t even read as much as most people I know. I’ve had to move 5 times in the last 6 years. As I’m sure you can imagine, carrying a lot of books was a pain. Books take up a lot of space. On shelves and in moving vans.
And in suitcases. I fly a fair amount, sometimes on 13 hour flights. It’s much more convenient for me to bring my nook with as many books as I want than to carry however many books I think I’ll need to entertain myself on my flight and my vacation.
And I can’t forget the time I had to evacuate from my home and was missing my favorite books for several months. If I had an ereader then, maybe that wouldn’t have happened.
More significantly, I am in awe of the way epublishing has exposed us to books we may not have read. Project Gutenburg has made many books in the public domain available–ie, the classics–for free to anyone with an internet connection. And of course, most people would say it’s easier to read on an ereader than a computer. When I first got my nook, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on ebooks (I had already spent a chunk of change on the ereader and didn’t know if I’d like it), so I downloaded a bunch of things off of Project Gutenburg. And I found I’m more willing to try a new book if it’s free than if it’s $7.99 or whatever Barnes and Noble charges for their classics.
Ereaders have also promoted self-publishing in a way that was not possible before. I feel like few things embody the spirit of our right to free speech than the ease of self-publishing. That there is allegedly a lot of crap out there does not change how I feel. The cure for bad speech, now and always, is more speech.
So even though I personally prefer paper to ereaders, I can’t understand the arguments against them. They sound more like elitism–wanting to make the classics available to those who have the space and money for more books and only giving a voice to a select few–and fear of change than any valid criticism that should be given any credence.
As readers, shouldn’t we be promoting reading? This should apply to the substance, not merely the medium.