A friend (an intelligent, absurdly well-read, book-loving friend) shared this article this morning arguing against e-Books. Here’s my friendly and earnest response.
Yes, yes, we know our newfangled “electricity” is mystical and frightening. I think you’ll find that it’s wonderful enjoying air-conditioning and refrigerated produce though.
Seriously, love physical books? Then keep your physical books. But the idea that the wrapper is more important than the content or that it somehow validates or legitimizes a tome to be printed is nonsense. That same idea is what holds together archaic authorities and organizations. “We are the gatekeepers of knowledge! If it doesn’t come from us, then it’s not REALLY worthwhile.”
That’s the publishers you’re glorifying holding the printed word as sacred, not the authors. Content is the thing. The idea. And ones and zeroes transmit those just as well as papyrus.
Today, every book you’ve purchased is accessible instantly on a myriad of devices. You can back up yourself if you’d like, but if your device dies or is replaced, if your computer is stolen, or if your house (and all those physical books) are burned, your books still wait for you, the same as ever, in the ether ready to whisk you away to another world as soon as they’re downloaded again. The future is scary, but progress is good.