Saturday, September 15, 2012

eBooks--What's the Big Deal???

All this blather about eBooks and intangible artifacts and emotional attachment to physical books...I totally don't get it. Don't judge a book by its cover, right? I have always been a fan of libraries...when you get a book from a library, it is impermanent, right?

There are some interesting possibilities if every book you ever read was an eBook. Imagine your child is reading Moby Dick...you could look up your copy and see what you highlighted. I know, that is a long long way off and probably mostly a dream, but it speaks to the possibilities of digital, which I think in many ways are so much greater than dead-tree.

Mostly, though, the words are what is important. I always used this thought experiment to frame the problem...suppose you have a hypothetical choice. You can preserve all of Shakespeare's works, in accurate but completely plain printed volumes. Or, you could have half of Shakespeare's works in their original versions (Folios or whatever), but the other half would be completely lost. Seems like an easy choice for the former, right? So what that tells me is the format is of secondary importance, at best. So why fuss over it so much?

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