Sunday, October 17, 2010

Commentary: Books, paper vs. electronic

I am a lover of the printed page. Yet, I have many eBooks and have read several novels on my iPad. I am reading one now. I find reading an eBook to be equally satisfying as reading a print book as far as book as a reading experience.

Bookstores? I love bookstores, Green Apple Books in San Francisco, Powell's in Portland, Elliott Bay Books in Seattle are all places I can get lost in.

But, let's not talk about paper books and bookstores; let's talk about film photography and camera stores. I love film photography. I have old press cameras that are older than I am. I love being in darkrooms and going to camera stores and talking about film and developers and photo techniques that do not involve computers. But, despite that passion; camera stores are almost gone. Film is not dead; but it is not mainstream either.

You could also say similar things about vinyl record stores. To be sure, vinyl records are not dead and there are still vendors that specialize in meeting the needs, wants and desires of those folks who prefer the old ways. But, to most people camera stores and records shops are just plain retro.

I prefer eBooks to printed books for technical publications. For reference books I find eBooks have it all over paper. I resent technical books that are not available electronically; I find them to be so inconvenient. I can have my whole technical library with me on my iPad, iPhone and all the computers I use; all at the same time. Paper technical books go out of date in two years and are virtually worthless. To me, that is really a waste of good trees.

So, in my opinion, for novels either paper or electronic is fine, for technical books I prefer electronic, for art "coffee table" books I prefer paper! I could go on. I think in ten years we will be looking at paper books like we now look at vinyl records and photo film. They will still be a passion for some; but for most they will just be a retro decorating accessory. Most folks who have them will have maybe a few around, just to impress our friends.

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