|This is as close to believing |
in the anti-Christ as a
non-religious book lover will
I know that a lot of you out there use e-readers like it's your job. That's your prerogative and I'm not here to bash you about that. Live and let live, I say. But to think that bookstores--real, honest-to-gods bookstores--are going under because people aren't buying paperbacks or hardcovers anymore is a tragedy.
I should have seen it coming, really. And, if I'm going to be honest, I sort of did. I mean, with the invention of the MP3 came the almost complete collapse in the CD business to the point where stores which made most of their money on sales of tangible DVDs and CDs (Media Play, FYE, etc.) closed their doors and gave up. Should we really be surprised that Borders and other bookstores are shutting down all over the country?
|"Look, Daddy! It's a tyrannosaurs Rex!"|
"No, sweetie, but it is extinct!"
Technology is really fascinating to me. As a sci-fi nerd, I love the idea of robots, space travel, colonies on other planets, holograms, the list goes on. I just never wanted technological advancements to eventually take away something that I love--the feel, smell, or sight of a new hardcover novel. Obviously physical books are still around. Bookstores and libraries haven't gone the way of the dinosaur (yet). Although many libraries are providing e-books for their patrons and businesses like Amazon are selling e-books like they're lifeboats off the Titanic, traditional books are still found all over the place. But so are CDs and they aren't selling like they used to either.
People are always looking for the next big thing, which is usually designed to make life easier. The washing machine made it so we no longer had to bang our underwear clean against some rocks. The car enabled humans to get places without getting blisters. Even the mobile phone has helped the world immensely by making sure that no matter where we are we can call for help...or, at least, a pizza.
Many inventions, however, have just made it so that we never have to leave our homes. Want some take-out? Order it on your computer. Not feeling like going to the video store (another dinosaur in its own right)? Watch a film on your iPod. Now we don't even have to step outside to buy a book. And, unlike ordering a physical book off of Amazon, e-books make it so we don't have to do something else that our entire species seems to hate--wait.
|Well, most people don't like to wait.|
I'm not totally unaware that there are benefits to using e-readers. I mean, there is that whole save-the-trees thing. Books printed on actual paper probably kill more rain forests every year than the BP oil spilled killed fish. But there's just something wonderful about seeing shelves and shelves of books. I've had a dream since I was a little kid to have one of those huge libraries like the Beast has in Beauty and the Beast. Although, to be honest, with my height deficit and fear of ladders, I'd want my shelves a little closer to the ground. Regardless, I get no pleasure out of seeing e-books lined up on an e-shelf; it just doesn't have the same je ne sais quoi, you know?
I have absolutely no interest in buying an e-reader. If I was a big traveler, then maybe I would get one for long plane trips or something. But since I'm poorer than dirt and can barely afford gas let alone a plane ticket, there really isn't a reason for me to get one. In fact, I may never find it imperative to purchase one. The problem is that I worry that someday it won't really be an option. In perfect Orwellian style, I have this horrific vision of the future where books cease to be printed and any new novel that comes out will have to be purchased in an electronic format. I see myself as one day becoming an eccentric curio that gets interviewed for some show about nutters who haven't quite gotten with the program:
Interviewer: So you still own books? Like, real, actual books?
Me: Why, yes, I have a whole room full of them.
Interviewer: ...Have you considered that you might be a hoarder?
Me: (shocked look on my face) I think this interview's over, you fracking wanker.
I picture myself sitting in a big armchair surrounded by grandchildren who all think I'm crazy because I extol the virtues of libraries:
Me: Back in my day, we borrowed rectangular objects from big buildings full of rectangular objects. And they had pages, too. Not like you get these days, mind you. You don't get proper pages these days.
Grandchild: Grandpa, you're a weirdo, you know that?
When I die, my family will be shocked to find that I don't own a single e-book, which means that I haven't read any new fiction in forty-five years. They'll also have a hard time figuring out what to do with my sizable library:
Daughter: Well, what do you think, Tommy?
Son: I say we burn 'em.
My Ghost: This is why I left everything to the dog, you Philistines!
All right, so I'm exaggerating a little, but I do find it to be insanely disappointing that people are preferring e-books to real books. Read them, by all means, but don't let the book die like the CD has. I'm just as guilty in the murder of the compact disc as any man, but I put my foot down when it comes to assassinating rectangular objects with pages in them. It's tragic enough what happened to this guy: