Friday, October 8, 2010


I got an eReader! I got the Sony one, which is the best one you can get when money is no object (money is no object because we don't have any and we got this one for free). I like it. It takes some getting used to, but I'm getting there. I like the idea of being able to have a whole bunch of books in one handy container that I can carry around in my purse. It's slim and light and my only problem with it is that you can't flip back through pages like you can a regular book. There's a way to. I just don't know what it is yet. But I will. My favorite thing about them is that I can read truly shlocky stuff in public and no one will know! I have a feeling I'll be checking out those Twilight books real soon.

Printed books won't go away. If you want to get a printed book, you'll be able to. But I suspect eBooks will be the norm within the next 10 years. After all, they're cheaper, more environmentally friendly and they're cheaper (did I mention cheaper?).

(While I'm talking about cheaper, they're not cheap enough yet. But they will be. They're like CDs. Publishers can get away with charging $10 for a novel now. But eventually, they'll have to admit that an electronic novel costs a fraction to publish what a printed one does. And the cost will reflect that. This may democratize casual reading in a way that libraries should but somehow don't.)

People will worry though about what this portends. Millions of words will be written on the subject (ironically, most of these will be read on computer screens). Old school types will pine and worry that the next generation is missing out on a fundamental feature of life because they aren't reading books the way older people like to read books.

Here's what I think: back in 1440 when Gutenberg invented the printing press a bunch of people at a dinner party sat around mourning its advent; agreeing with each other that if it's not handwritten, it's so impersonal.

Such is the hallmark of any new technology. Let's all roll our eyes at it. I bet Gutenberg did.

One final note: if I were to just hear the word "Gutenberg" completely out of context, I'd totally think Steve not Johannes. Would you? I suspect that if American culture is really in demise, this is the symptom. Not eReaders.