The Weight

News Publishing Technology

I'm in the process of moving to a new apartment, which means I just finished boxing up and shipping my entire book collection. This was a lot of boxes. I'm the kind of person who likes to travel light, so it's at moments like this that I really see the value in the so-called e-book revolution that's apparently heading our way. If the e-book revolution means I can enjoy these same objet's d'art in a virtual form about 600 pounds lighter, I'm for that.

As those who follow book industry news know, electronic books are the hot topic of 2009. Much of the coverage has been negative, in tones ranging from poignant to tragic. Another wave of media attention is coming, because Amazon has just purchased Lexcycle, the Texas-based startup that created Stanza, the most popular iPhone e-book reader. We've been interested in Stanza for a while, and we're not sure what to think about Amazon buying the Kindle's biggest competition.

As for the larger debate about the negative effects of electronic publishing, though, we remain confident that the transition from a print-only literary publishing environment to a print-and-electronic literary publishing environment will be a positive one. I'll say it again: that was a lot of boxes I just had to move. Sometimes when we carry a lot of weight with us everywhere we go, we forget to think about how good it might feel to become free of that weight. I'm looking forward to someday carrying all the great literature that's currently residing in 35 cardboard boxes in my new apartment in a device that fits inside my pocket. I don't see how anyone who truly loves books can not be excited about the idea that this will soon be possible.
7 Responses to "The Weight"

by stevadore on

My jury is still out on this issue. There's something organic about pageturning, smelling musty paper and feeling a dustjacketed book cradled safely in your hands. I think there is more of a bonding experience with the story and author when actually reading a book. Then again, I still enjoy writing longhand with pen on paper, before I go MS Word.

I'm not against technology at all. I love it and the challenge of keeping up, but I love the naturalness of reading a book also.

Maybe both can continue to thrive and coexist? I wonder if this is this how people felt in the second century when the codex started replacing the scroll?

Maybe I'm being old school, but I just know I enjoy reading books in book form.

by Baroque on

I completely agree that e-book readers have a lot to offer over traditional books. After all, I like my ipod more than my old CD racks, binders, and Discmen.

My biggest concern, though, is the ability to make marginal and other notations. E-books could easily add a 'comment' feature that would mirror margin-scribblings, but what if I want to add scansion marks to a poem, for instance? I suppose this is possible, too, with a Palm Pilot-style pen or something. But it would be more difficult. I don't know- what else, if anything, would be lost in the transition?

E-books will have a dramatic effect on the silverfish population. Someone needs to do a study on that.

I am all about the smell/experience of the book. I do not like staring at a screen. Hell, for now, litkicks and raindrophustla.com are the only two reasons I have the internet! Peace all.

by mtmynd on

I have no doubt e-books are the future and it is not only a modern convenience... a tricky, crafty, gadgety new thing on the market, but I see it (as many certainly must see it) as a tree-saving device... the lean, green, mean machine that will trump ink stained paper that once whispered in the rustling of the turned page. Robotic readers will soon be reading us our bedtime lullabies selected in an instant from the endless list of nighttime tales offered by instant satellite connection.

I'm too old to believe my own words... but I just have to... it's that close.

by Cal Godot on

I'm looking forward to someday carrying all the great literature that's currently residing in 35 cardboard boxes in my new apartment in a device that fits inside my pocket.

I love books. When I moved from Seattle, I shipped about 20 boxes of books. As a young man I prided myself on being able to fit all my belongings in a small car. Now I am proud that it takes a freight truck to move my library.

I love ebooks. Having an entire encyclopedia set, plus other reference works, along with several classical texts - yeah, that has some appeal. When I carried a Palm Pilot, I read Plato every morning on the bus, and did not have to decide before leaving the house which dialog I wanted to read that day.

But when the batteries go in the middle of the night and require a 2-hour-plus recycle time, and I don't feel like being tethered via AC adapter to a wall outlet, then nothing but a book will do. When we get to rolling blackouts this summer, a book and candlelight will serve well. Camping? A book and lantern will work for many days.

The inability to see the broader spectrum of utility - the drive to make things 'this or that' - is, I think, a peculiarly American disease. Dis-ease. I have books and ebooks, plenty of both. Does the enjoyment of one preclude the enjoyment of the other? I think not.

by judih on

Nothing will replace the smell of an old beloved MAD paperback.
And the Action Poetry book? These things don't come in pixels. My On the Road is shredding, but it comes with me on every move.

On the other hand, if there were a way to give books away to people I loved, I'd rather give than take them with me.

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