Tuesday, March 03, 2009

When Books Are Electric

The medium is not the relevant bit. Sure: books on paper are wonderful. They smell good to me. They feel good in my hand. I like the weight and heft of books on paper. I like how books never run out of batteries and don’t ever need to be plugged in. And how I can take a book to the beach/ski slope/on rapid transit and not worry if it will work in that place. I know that it will.

Let’s face it: the design of the traditional book is a good one. It’s timeworn amd time-shaped and it works. Sometimes all the kerfuffle about e-books seems like a lot of inventing better mousetraps. And sure: there are some good ideas. But when the dust settles, what’s in my hand? A book. Always, a book.

In the end, it will be preference, won’t it? A good book transports us, does it not? It lifts us from the place where we are -- with a paper book or an e-book reader in hand -- and drops us into the world of that story. The message does that, then. Not the medium.

As is so often the case in life, it’s all about the journey. The method of transportation barely factors in.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

That captures my feelings perfectly. Thankyou. I don't have anything against Kindle and the other readers. Honestly, I don't. But take away my books? I don't think so. I love my books. But like you day, though, where does story come from? It really is the message not the medium that counts here, IMHO.

Saida Lawrence, Chicago

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 1:17:00 PM PST  
Blogger Juanita Rose Violini said...

But if you drop a book book in the bathtub you can always dry it out. But if you drop an ebook in the bathtub do you get e-lectrocuted? Does it come with a warning. Could this be a clever new murder weapon in some futurist sizzler page turner; The Last Word? By the Book? Blue Screen of Death? Ok, I'll stop now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:09:00 AM PST  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Ummm... you'd have to check the instructions of the manufacturer, right? But -- um -- I'm pretty sure electrocution would not be an option.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:50:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't beat the look, feel, scent, and sound of a good book. Not to mention the nice pictures on the cover. I've tried Kindle and don't care for it. I like to underline, make marginal notes, etc. And books look really nice on my shelves. I think the invention of Kindle, etc. is sad.

- A Dinosaur

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 9:47:00 AM PST  
Blogger evilDoug said...

As someone who travels often. I find ebooks to be indispensable. There are too many things I have to carry, Cellphone, ipod, laptop, change of clothes. Last on that list is a book. I love reading. If my book fit's on my ipod or phone, then that device is doing more than one job. I cna carry a whole shelf of books, including work text's. SO, while I agree that I love books and reading one is wonderful, when I'm home, for me ebooks make my life more comfortable and enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:50:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have thought "the journey" and "the method of transportation" were inseparable. Isn't there a little e-blog justification going on here -- with your hoping to have it both ways?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 12:43:00 PM PST  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

What on earth is "e-blog justification"? It doesn't sound very appetizing!

As to the journey and the method of transportation being inseparable, what a bizarre notion!

Let's face it: you can fly, you can take the train, a bus or walk: all of those things will get you there, but they're not the same. That is, you're going to the same place, but the journey will be different.

And here's really what I meant: when I read fiction, I'm hoping to move to a place where I am transported out of myself. That's the beauty of good fiction and that's why I'm there.

Stinky writing doesn't do that for me. Stinky delivery doesn't do it either. But if I read a good book in a medium that is not obtrusive, I will be transported. Nothing else is important: not to me. And that's how I judge the success of the design. Is it awkward? Is the lighting dodgy? Is it uncomfortable to hold? These things, then, will intrude. If they do not intrude then... well, I don't care: you can deliver it in a book made of paper and cloth. You can deliver it electronically or -- hell -- any old way you like.

And that's the journey to which I refer: the place a good book takes us which has nada, zilch, nothing to do with how it is made and everything to do with the way that it touches your mind. And your heart.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 1:16:00 PM PST  

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