The debate between e-Books versus the printed word continues. Novelist Johnathan Franzen offered his opinion this week. Franzen’s perspective is that E-Books will ruin civilization.
Beyond the rhetoric, Franzen’s makes a very interesting argument. He essentially makes two points. E-books are a diversion design to steal money from readers who would spend money on printed books.
Also, e-books will lead to the destruction of traditional publications. Franzen offers an eloquent defense for the traditional books. The Atlantic Wire captured the following comments:
I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change. Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around.
How can anyone raise an objection? The printed word offers so much. For me, the reading experience is much more tangible this way.
Also, I am an avid note taker. Note taking is a part of the learning process. The books I have contain marginal notes. Readers cannot make such notes in e-books. Some books are not available in an electronic format.
Franzen is an awarding winning novelist. Unfortunately, Franzen is also a first-class Luddite. He loathes technology. However, he cannot survive without his Blackberry. Franzen is ignoring a very important perspective.
Readers like the Kindle and Nook. E-readers can store several books at the price of dollar per publication. Newspapers also offer more content online beyond their printed editions.
This is not an either or proposition. Technology can support tradition. No one wants turn back the clock. The marketplace provides enough freedom for readers to choose. We should celebrate the fact the people still have an interest in reading.