Monday, December 1, 2008

Publish or Perish?

I wanted to share this with you if you didn't already see it in Sunday's New York Times. I thought it was a great Op-Ed piece by James Gleick and worth the read.

My favorite part is this:

As a technology, the book is like a hammer. That is to say, it is perfect: a tool ideally suited to its task. Hammers can be tweaked and varied but will never go obsolete. Even when builders pound nails by the thousand with pneumatic nail guns, every household needs a hammer. Likewise, the bicycle is alive and well. It was invented in a world without automobiles, and for speed and range it was quickly surpassed by motorcycles and all kinds of powered scooters. But there is nothing quaint about bicycles. They outsell cars.

I think this just says it all. I've been asked fairly regularly what my thoughts are about e-books. I think they are inevitable in our age of technology, but I don't think the physical book will ever go away. Most of the benefits of an e-reader are not relative to me. I don't have money for an e-reader, and since I buy a great deal of my books used to begin with, it wouldn't be a money saver down the road either. I don't read books fast enough to make one sensible for travel. I usually only need one, maybe two books to tide me over on a trip. That's not difficult to carry. Maybe someday I'll have an e-reader. I'm not opposed them any more than I oppose audiobooks, but I won't ever LOVE them the way I love a physical book either. An e-reader is simply another form of the book. Unlike CDs replacing tapes that replaced records or Blu-Ray that replaced DVD that replaced VHS...there is no improving the quality of the book. It's simply moving it to a new medium. The ideas are all the same, the words elicit the same magic, the mystery and travel and excitement are all still there. The one thing an e-reader will never be able to accommodate is an author's inscription. In that way, an e-reader will never be worth more to me.

Happy Reading!

4 comments:

Corey Wilde December 2, 2008 at 9:17 AM  

Excellent post, Jen, and I'm in full agreement. I would never deny or denigrate a Kindle (or its kin) to those who want them -- why would I discourage reading? But for me, a book's the perfect medium.

le0pard13 December 2, 2008 at 9:24 PM  

What Corey said ;-)

beauvallet December 3, 2008 at 10:33 PM  

What le0pard13 said. :-D

trish December 23, 2008 at 3:26 PM  

That is a really great quote. It makes me see the whole books/e-books in a whole different light. Now that I think about it, I'll bet publishers just need to change their business to meet these technological times, but like that guy said, everyone has a hammer. And a bicycle.

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