I recently received a gift from a friend in the form of an e-book.
E-books are electronic versions of print books displayed either on a computer or an e-book device, which is about the size of a normal paperback book but more closely resembles a giant palm pilot complete with giant stylus used for scrolling through the pages.
In the beginning, e-books were generally used for technical and mechanical training manuals, but in the last few years they have intruded into the literary arena.
Of course there are advantages to an e-book. For example, you can store thousands of books on the same device, you don’t need a reading light because the screen is back lit, and you don’t have to hold open a book and turn its pages, which, depending on where you’re reading (e.g., bed, airplane, bus, solitary confinement), can be a big plus. And, of course, the biggest advantage to the e-book is it doesn’t waste paper, which saves trees.
But isn’t it somewhat comforting owning your favorite books and packing your shelves full of them? And imagine (God forbid) that e-books become the norm and you never have the opportunity to buy a book ever again, or peruse a bookstore for hours on end?
Now here’s the kicker. Last summer, e-books started coming in text-message format for certain youth-lit publications. Some genius figured it would be easier for kids to read only 10 or so words at a time, and these e-books are even equipped with text language! Imagine Holden Caulfield LOLing all over Manhattan, or Sal Paradise telling Dean Moriarty that he’ll BRB. AHHHHHHH!!! It makes me want to smack a kid.
I, for one, love being able to open a book and turn its pages. And when I’m not busy with life, I’m usually in a bookstore—and I’m not talking about some dumb Internet store.
E-books are incredibly new, and the technology will need more time on the market to prove its worth, if it even has any. Will e-books replace traditional books, or will they go the way of the pet rock and the eight-track player?