Ebooks: Yes or No?

By: Dennis Bates

I guess I’m confused. Not that confusions is all that new to me, mind you, but it continues to amaze me that there’s almost something new to twist my mind almost every day.

As I’ve written before, technology continues to move faster than I can or really want to go. There’s email, voicemail, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter…well you get the picture. It’s confusing,  especially if you’re chronologically challenged like I am. I wouldn’t care, but I’ve chosen to write books and today that means you have to stay current or even slightly ahead of the technology curve.

Here’s the problem: I don’t want to. I just want to write. I thought I was stepping into the black hole when I agreed to get a web page and write this blog. Turns out this was child’s play and merely the price of admission. Now that I’ve been allowed into the game, I find out the rules have changed and I can’t keep up. Also, as I said, I don’t even want to, but if I don’t,  all the time I’ve spent writing counts for very little.

The latest question being debated on another writing discussion board I participate on is whether books as we know them will disappear. The trend is toward something called ebooks, which are basically books that are stored on a computer for downloading on a personal minicomputer for reading. Some of the devices are the same size as regular book pages and you turn a page by pressing a button rather than the old fashioned way…by hand.

The pros are that you will eventually have virtually every book ever written at your disposal and you can download anything within minutes. Ebooks cost less and save trees because no paper is involved. Before you say I would never do that, think back a few years and ask yourself if you were one of those people who said they would never have a cell phone, or a computer, or two cars. You get the picture. Never say never. It’s never a good idea.

The cons are that you can’t share them with a friend after you’ve read them;  you can’t cuddle up in bed at night with a good book, or in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace, or cover your eyes with one on the beach when you want to take a nap. Also, a handheld computer, which is much like a Blackberry, only bigger, just doesn’t feel or smell like a book and you can’t turn the pages by hand; you merely press a button.

Where’s the romance in that? Simple, there isn’t any.

One of the contributors in the debate pointed out the irony in this new technology. At one time books were the exclusive province of the wealthy. They were a sign a person had arrived and had a certain status because they were far too expensive for the average person to obtain. There will always be traditional books, but as more and more people buy them online, the traditional books may become expensive again, and to some at least, unnecessary.

The purists (mostly older) say that would be a pity. The more contemporary among us (mostly younger) say that’s progress and it’s really no big deal. I see a place for both traditional books and ebooks, but I have to admit my age tilts me more toward the camp of the purists.

I would be interested in your responses. Would you read books that were merely in ebook form? Or, are you a purist and prefer to hold a real, traditional book in your hands? Let us know. Thank you.

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