The purpose of books is to inform, educate or entertain. They can also be used to prop up the leg of a wonky table, or as paperweights, or to squash insects. Over the millenia books have been written on any material capable of being inscribed, including clay, wood, metal, wax, papyrus and stone. They were produced in the form of scrolls, tablets, and concertinas. They were laboriously hand-written and illustrated.
Once the printing press arrived, did readers welcome it, or did they regard it as a horrible modern invention and the ruination of the book? Did they prefer to unwind 50 feet of parchment to read the story?
I read a thread recently where somebody was saying how delighted they were with their Kindle. The thread deteriorated rapidly, with “proper” book readers expressing scorn and indignation. One of them went so far as to say that “these fads will soon be nothing more than piles of junk cluttering up the waste-fills, because nobody will want them.” The conversation became quite aggressive.
Music has evolved from live performance through vinyl discs, via tape cassettes to CDs and is now in digital format. It’s all music however you listen to it. Many people find digital music quality preferable to vinyl. Some purists still enjoy those scratchy old discs. Whether people prefer listening to the vinyl, digital music is still “proper” music.
Digital photographs are “proper” photographs even though they have not been taken with a box with a pinhole in it. I have one friend who resolutely refuses to use a digital camera. That’s fine, it’s his choice. But he doesn’t rail against anybody who does.
I understand that everybody has their preferences, but do people really have to get so worked up if others choose to use a different media?
A book filled with blank pages can still be described as a book, even though there’s nothing to read in it. And an e-book/digital book is as much a book as one printed on paper. Provided it has words in it. 🙂
I find it strange when people say “Oh, I’d never read on an e-reader – I hate reading on a computer. I only read proper books.” An e-reader is no more like a computer than a fish is like a bird. They are two entirely different things. An e-reader offers many benefits a paper book doesn’t: in-built dictionary, ability to re-size font, instant delivery. You don’t need to use a biscuit wrapper to remember your page – an e-reader does that for you. If you’re travelling you can carry 500 books or more in your pocket. There are thousands, yes thousands of free books available for e-readers, including all the classics. You can carry every word written by Shakespeare, Dickens, Homer, Austen et al. around with you. The pages don’t fall out when the book gets old. The spine doesn’t wrinkle. If you get Marmite on it you can wipe it off without leaving a stain. An e-reader is lighter than a book, and you only need one hand to hold it and turn the pages. Those are some of the reasons I love my Kindle. On the downside they’re not much use for propping up that wonky table leg or batting wasps.
But hey! Why should it bother me if other people prefer paper books? It doesn’t. And why on earth do some paper book readers get so wound up when they hear e-readers mentioned? Read and let read, I say.
Best Foot Forward and The Valley of Heaven and Hell are both available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle, and from Smashwords in all other digital formats. An updated version of A Perfect Circle will be available in paperback and Kindle soon, followed by two more titles this year.