E-books lack character

Oct 2nd, 2009 | By | Category: Commentary, Featured Articles, Opinions

by Victoria Branch

Seriously, what’s the deal with e-books? I recently read an article about all the advantages of these “electronic books” and how they were going to change the face of education and make reading available to everyone.

Um, sorry, but since when was reading not available to everyone? Pretty sure books aren’t hard to come by. We have libraries, which are free. This means everyone can read them. I just want to cry when I think about how in 20 or 30 years, most textbooks will be available only online. What is going to happen to studying outside? Are libraries going to turn into computer labs?

People that promote e-books clearly haven’t lain outside underneath a tree with a beloved book in hand. Can you imagine the future of this scenario? “Dangit, the glare from the sun is totally making it hard to see my computer screen.” “Ants are getting in my keyboard!” “I don’t want to sit my computer on grass…” The whiny possibilities are endless.books

And what about reading in the bathtub? Not an option. What if you were careless and dropped your computer in the tub? It would be a disaster. And what if you need to look something up quickly and discreetly? Forget opening a book quietly and checking it out. Oh no, those days are gone. Haul out the laptop, open it up, make that annoying typing noise and find it. And everyone knows what you’re doing.

Underlining a favorite passage? No, now there is electronic highlighting. Somebody bugging you while you’re walking? Well, while you used to be able to use a lovely heavy textbook to hit their elbow, now you can’t because you’ll damage your computer.

Call me a book purist, but there really is nothing like sitting with a good book in my hands. It’s the weight of it; the smell of a new book; the sound you hear when you crack a new binding open; the feel of that heavy paper in your hands with the tiny raised letters of black ink all over the surface; taking a pen and writing in the margins what you think a certain passage means.

Books are beautiful and we should value them. The computer has already taken over so much of our lives. I vote we keep our novels, poems, autobiographies, textbooks, and essays in the form they were meant to take— in a book.

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