Tag Archives: print books

The Funny Side to the E-book Debate

As the sales of e-books soar past print books without a second glance, I feel the need to bring some laughter to this heavy issue. I will not be stating any argument on the debate, as I feel there is merit to both print and digital books. I will, however, give you an example of the downsides to e-books only Cracked.com would bring to our attention.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/8-unexpected-downsides-switch-to-e-books/

What happens when you take a well-known comedic site and combine it with the debate of oh the next 50 years or so? The monstrosity of an article shown above. It details the satirical and true downsides to e-books coming to power.

The first downside, you ask? Where will assassins hold their guns? With security and surveillance becoming more high tech, assassins and hit men must become more creative in hiding their weaponry.  So why not just hide it in your coat? Metal detectors solve that problem outright and as the author of the article goes through the strangest places to hide a gun, we come across books as the cliched place to hide a gun. If e-books take over and make books obsolete (don’t think it will happen for a while) then carrying one around will be odd and out of place, making guns in books undesirable for killers.

The list continues to include mundane tasks like holding up a wobbly table and doodling in textbooks. While people might not find ultimate value in these odd reasons, the root of them is the same. What happens if we change the entire facet of books? Just like phones when they became mobile, the culture began to change to create something people 50 years ago wouldn’t recognize. The mobile phone example is perfect because while most people use their cell phones,  land lines are still prominently used. The influx of cell phone eventually leveled out and became consistent while land lines were simply used less. To me, this seems like a possible example future for books. As print books have been such a long standing form in the medium, I believe they will hold strong to the people who need them. At the same time, there isn’t anything wrong with using both for different reasons and keeping the history of the medium alive.

One of the most interesting downsides on the list is the use of ancient texts and mystical books in movies and games. Many movie plots and even whole genres rely on the use of books that either have a magical quality or important information only found in old books. There would be no plot to The NeverEnding Story without the old, mysterious book. If you replaced the mysterious, almost magical book with a Kindle, the movie wouldn’t have the magic in it.  Where would the old witch find her potion recipes or the young sorcerer learn his trade. For the fantasy genre, it almost solely relies on the use of these ancient books in the plot to suck us in to the story. Would we take those out and replace them with e-books as most technological updates have required of movies? I don’t know, but I sure don’t want to live in a world where I’d have to find out.

We move on in the list to the use of books in opening secret passages and the sanitation of bathroom reads. One of the things people don’t understand about new technology is how it truly affects our perception of the world and changes our culture. While some people prefer to read harlequin books in the bathroom rather than take them out into the world, e-readers require you to have all your books in one place. This isn’t ideal for the bathroom reader, but neither is by two Kindles just so you can read on the John.

Speaking of changing culture, the most shocking realization of e-books rising above print books is book burning. What has plagued controversial books for decades? The threat (or not) of book burning. Contrary to Fahrenheit 451, replacing paper books would make book burning less appealing. Would you rather burn a bunch of 5 dollars books or burn a $200 electronic device that doesn’t actually hold the only copy of the book. It make the statement of book burning completely useless.

For authors like Mark Twain and J.K. Rowling (as well as librarians and bibliophiles) this could be a relief. However, the point of book burning is not such a terrible thing, is it? Does it stand to reason that a book, which can rile the masses to burn its pages is important? Without this option, how would we know that books hold a power above just the pages? If a book on an e-reader is too controversial, you would just get rid of it. You wouldn’t burn your Nook. The only indication that a book was too controversial would be the peer reviews on the app and Oprah’s Book Club wouldn’t read it. Although I’m obviously against burning books (unless I’m stranded and have a bunch of Twilight books), there is something powerful in that action to stand against someone’s view of the world. Though many people would find it a blessing to be rid of this act, I find that the world would be a less honest place if radicals couldn’t burn books and provoke people to read them more.

Either way, there are upsides and comical downsides to e-books, but this much is true. There is no way for us to know the results (positive or negative) of this new technology until it has had more time to prosper. Print books have had hundreds of years of head start. Give e-books time. They may have their hindrances, but everything in the world does. Cracked as always gives you a relaxed way of looking at a heated, sensitive issue.

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Why I Love Real Books

Getting back to my blog’s main purpose, after some shameless self promotion, I address an issue many people must face in this digital age. How do we convince them these new books aren’t books?

For example, what would you say to an alien who has just landed on Earth when asked where our history and traditions are kept? Well, of course you would go to a library and show them books, right? RIGHT? But what if the new electronic book craze leaves us with a world of no libraries like Fahrenheit 451. No ancient books showing pictures and writing of the world’s history. You won’t be able to see the age on the tattered pages or smell the breath of the author on the pages.

Barnes and Noble suggests that by the year 2015, digital book sales with either match that of paper books or surpass it completely. Now for tech geeks like my boyfriend that is a testament to our ability to adapt and change. But for me, it means that all of the things I adore about books is threatened.

While I understand and respect the uses and need of electronic books, I struggle every day to give up my old “purist” ways and get e-books instead. Did you know that scientists are now using that “old book smell” that we love so much to tell how decayed historical documents are? Usually they would just take samples of the paper, but you can tell the history of the book or document by its smell.

According to Perfumes: A Guide, there is a chemical in older paper closely related to vanillin that has been broken down over the years, “which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand stores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.”  The smell of old books is a gateway to our memories, taking us back to a different time and creating a bond between you and the book. These sniff experts go on to say that smelling is a direct experience, it can’t be recreated with sprays and imitation smells like this one attempting to make these digital hybrid into real books:

http://smellofbooks.com/

But we know the truth. That no matter how many realistic additions you add to the e-readers, you will never replace the feel, smell, and experience of a real book. It’s not some cop out that old fogies use to get out of changing. It’s about respecting the package the story comes in and how it affects your experience. I enjoy odd editions of books because of the personality that comes with it. Writing on the inside of the cover, underlining, notes in the margins, and that all too familiar musty book smell. There is also the flip side of a freshly pressed and wrapped book.

There is joy as a little kid, having mom or dad read a book and imagining the epic story unfold in your imagination. Once you learn to read yourself, holding the book in your hand, you become the master of the adventure about to be discovered. Each turn of the page, you wait in anticipation as you reach the bottom. When you finally get there, you flip the page so furiously that you get a paper cut or rip the page, but you don’t care. The story is too good to stop and worry about it.

To me, true readers never lose that joy while reading. When you take away the ability for the reader to be the master, you give up a fundamental right we have to do so.  When you can ctrl F key words or at the flip of a screen go to the end of the book, the mystery of the story is lost. Yes, technically you can do that to a real book, but there are unwritten rule when it comes to reading a real book. One of them is that you never skip to the end of the book to find out what happens. Unless it’s one of those choose your own adventure, a true reader just doesn’t skip to the end, but stories in electronic form don’t keep to the reading code.

There is a code for reading. You may not think it’s important to the experience, but reading has an important place in the history of our species. It is why an alien would be in awe of the collection of vanilla scented, leather bound books that has documented our history since the beginning. It is the reason I have cardboard boxes full of memories and a dream to have bookshelves line an entire room in my future home.

My favorite author, publisher of both electronic AND print books states his claim about real books in the following quote, which I find to be insightful and comedic.

I'm sold! Why buy a virtual book for $9.99 when I can get the same one with character in my hand for $0.10?

 

Regardless of what new technology graces the market, I know others will agree with me on one important point.  As long as there are tree growing, there will always be people buying real books.

 

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A Picture is Worth…Well, I’ll Let You Decide

While I was searching for a picture for my header, I came across this photo. Now that I have established an opinion supporting print and technology, I believe now I can bring up the biggest problem for writers today. What will become of our craft now that books are becoming more popular in electronic format.

We’ve traded our pens and printing presses for keyboards and computer software.   The idea of electronic books is not a new one as it has been around since the 1970s thanks to Project Gutenberg. Yet, making books that aren’t readily available for free online is different from replacing the print medium altogether.

So, here is your introduction to my internal struggle of being a book purist (believing in the paper and the print version of a book/story) and adapting to the advancing technology of the future.

Thanks to Google Images for this photo

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