The idea occurred to me while I was in Barnes and Noble with my girlfriend spending a gift card that I’d recently received. (I bought High Fidelity and A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby, and Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman, in case you’re wondering.) I got a chance to play around a little bit with the Barnes and Noble iteration of Amazon’s Kindle, the Nook. The Nook is pretty neat, but pretty much your standard ebook reader.
What got me thinking about this is how I much prefer to hold a physical book than to read it on the screen. Now, this bears a striking resemblance to the debate on analog vs. digital music, but with a few key differences. I collect vinyl records. They sound better, they smell and feel better, and it’s somewhat of a fetishist activity to take care of them and clean them and take them out of the sleeves to play them. But I also use an iPod. I also have pretty much my entire vinyl collection (and then some) in digital form. The benefit of this is that I can take an iPod (and by extension, thousands of records) anywhere I want. It’s handy. It’s convenient. It’s efficient.
But books are different. The ebook reader is like the iPod for literature, but the need for that convenience and efficiency is not quite as widely spread. Sure, there are some people who read so much, and read multiple books at a time, who might need an ebook reader so they can take thousands of books with them. But that’s not me. It might work for some people, but if I need to take a book with me, it’s just one, and I’d rather read the physical copy.
So I’ve mostly just been thinking out loud (or on my blog, I guess) and haven’t reached any real point yet. I suppose I think it’s so great that we have these awesome technological advances that allow us take thousands of books or records or movies with us wherever we go. But I’m also glad that those advances haven’t meant *death* to the physical medium. I like to consume my music both ways. But I prefer to experience my books in analog.
As it stands, I still have the means to do it that way.