Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bezos v. Gutenburg

I don’t own an eReader or a tablet. My wife’s crazy plan (crazy-like-a-fox) to pay off our grad school loans in 5 years has definitely hit us hard on the disposable income front. So while I remain mired in antiquated reading technologies my mind has turned to the pros and cons of physical books. Here are a few, off the top of my head.

Things I love about books:

There’s only one format.
You can lend them to friends.
You can leave them to posterity.

Conversely, eBooks usually can’t be shared across devices, can’t be lent to friends, and can’t even be inherited by your kids. How screwed up is that?

Also, what good is a world without used bookstores? Here is my haul from this past weekend:

 In case you can’t make out the price tags, I picked up Winesburg Ohio, Ethan Frome, Franny and Zooey  and The Awakening- all for a mere $6.06. That’s less than a spicy chicken combo meal at  your local Wendy’s, and will feed your mind for days! Sadly, there is no “after-market” in the eBook world.

I also like having a two-page spread in front of me. In other words, I love not having to turn the page after every second paragraph, which seems to be pretty standard on most eReaders I've played with.

Finally, I love how they sit on the bookcase like trophies, little parts of me, serving as visual reminders of my personal growth.

Things I’m ambivalent about:

Old book smell- Sometimes it’s a nice, comforting fragrance that transports you to another time. Other times it just smells like hell.

Things I hate about books:

Hardcover editions- I hate the general feel of them, I hate how new ones always want to close, and how the old ones always want to open to the spots where their spine’s been broken.

Dustjackets- Honestly, what is the point of the dustjacket? If it’s doing its job (taking the nicks, scratches and scuffs associated with regular use), they look like total crap. And if they look like total crap, why would I want to keep them on my books? Oh, and if it’s really just supposed to keep the dust off the book, why isn’t it protecting the page edges along the top of the book- the only place dust tends to collect in most bookcase configurations? It’s a misnomer and an annoyance.

Deckle edges and rough-trimmed edges- Not universal by any means, but I hate 'em when I come across them. If you like brainteasers and hand-eye coordination exercises every time you go to flip the page, I guess they're okay. But I don’t. Give me a nice, smooth cut-page every time.

I hate how bulky and heavy some of them are- they’re a pain to lug around.

I hate how they accumulate. (Wait a sec, didn’t he say a minute ago that….?) Yeah, I did. But how many trophies can you really display before you’re a prime candidate for “Hoarders?”

Did I get any of these wrong? Which do you prefer?

1 comment:

  1. I rock a Kindle . . . and I rock it well. But here is the one thing I miss the most about old physical paperbacks: COVER ARTWORK.

    The Kindle eBooks I read just seem to lack an edge, and for the longest time I couldn't put my finger on it, and then one day it hit me: No Artwork on the cover!

    Not sure why, but I love a good cover, and while I read the novel, I like to soak in the cover, the art, the design, the look of a book, all over the course of 2 or 3 or 4 or 10 weeks. It becomes part of me.

    With the Kindle, I don't have that.