it’s the accessibility, stupid.
Posted June 13, 2012on:
It isn’t news to any of you that I’m completely old fashioned. I ain’t into hand-made doilies or anything, but nostalgia and I are very good friends.
it’s not news to anyone that I have a total “book as object” fetish. The feel of the paper, the marks on the spine, the condition of the book as a physical and visual record of its journey. Don’t get me started, I could seriously talk about this until the cows come home. Oh wait, I have.
but thanks to a few recent experiences I’m rethinking my “they are evil!” stance on e-readers and tablets.
Here’s how it happened:
A while ago I donated some money to a Kickstarter project called Save the SciFi that is buying up the rights to vintage Scifi and reprinting them. Yay for old books getting new life! For my donation, I get a handful of free books. But the organization is only doing ebooks. So if I want to actually get anything for my money (other than supporting something I believe in), I aughta get with the program.
Met an author at an airport over Memorial day weekend. I didn’t know who he was, he didn’t know who I was, our flight was delayed, we randomly got talking. I said I was into Scifi, he was a SciFi author on his way to a con. He’s a happy mutant, his stuff is digital only. If I want to read him (and I’d like to), I better get with the damn program already.
I subscribe to a few print magazines. Sometimes they show up mangled or rain soaked in my mailbox. Sometimes so mangled that they are in an oversize Post Office envelope with an apology from the post office for destroying my mail. Apology is nice and all, but it’s still really hard the read the articles when the magazine is torn in half and the front cover is missing. most print mags offer a free online subscription if you buy the print, or you can just buy online version a little cheaper.
I don’t even care that ebooks are a little cheaper than print. I truly don’t believe that an e-reader would be a more convenient reading device for me than a print book. I don’t find books heavy or expensive or cumbersome. I find their weight in my handbag to be quite comforting, actually. ( it was funny on the airplane, the flight attendant told everyone to turn off all electronic devices, and there was an audible groan as people were forced to turn off their e-readers. I pulled a paperback out of my purse and enjoyed the flight.)
This is all about accessibility. If it’s an out of print title that hasn’t been printed since 1945, yes, I’m still going to be on the search for a print copy. Chances are, an iffy condition, binding glue flaked, moldy copy. I’ll buy it (hello, nostalgia fetish!) but an electronic copy would be nice, so I can actually read the damn thing without having an allergic reaction. Print magazine? I like the print versions, and they make great packing material and liners when i’m done with them. But electronic sure would be handy for when the act of mailing the stupid thing to me destroys its readability.
I will never stop buying print books. I will never get rid of my print books. My home will always look like a library exploded.
I don’t believe print books or brick and mortar bookstores will ever go away. I don’t believe electronic publishing is a credible threat to traditional publishing. They are simply two different modes of production and communication.
but again that magic word pops up: accessibility. A growing list of things I’m interested in (hello Lightspeed Magazine!) are primarily available electronically. The only person getting hurt by my obstinacy is me.