Gregory Cowles has a post today over on the New York Times website about how 2008 might be remembered as the year that ebooks finally caught on. He references the popularity (or is it a really low supply?) of products like Amazon’s Kindle as part of the reason behind his thinking this. He concludes by writing of a shift to ereaders:
I think I would have a hard time adapting to that — I live too much in my head already, and enjoy the solid physicality of ink on paper — but then, I’m the kind of guy who would have complained about the end of parchment or chiseled stone too. There’s no stopping the future. “When you get right down to it,” a publisher told me, “the story you’re delivering is always more important than the delivery system you use.”
I’m with Cowles here; no matter how tech-savvy I am and no matter how many wonderful uses I find for technology in my life I will never be able to pick up an electronic copy of a book with the same kind of enthusiasm and feelings as a traditional print copy. I look at apps like Classics for the iPhone and iPod Touch and think that if something this well-designed still can’t make reading books on a display a suitable replacement then I’m not sure anything really will.
Also, I think I disagree with the publisher quoted above. I think that an intriguing story becomes inherently less interesting to me if the medium of presentation is one that I cannot accomodate. I just relate it to whenever I try to edit a friend’s college paper on my computer. No matter how good the paper is it simply does not hold my attention and I don’t read it as thoroughly as I do when I print out a copy. Just my two cents.
Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip on the article.