Sunday, March 06, 2005

Riding the wave of the past

I love technology. Take a quick look around the room you're sitting in right now, and I'm sure you'll see dozens of ways technology has made your life easier. We've got gadgets that will do things our parents and grandparents thought couldn't be done. It's wonderful.

That said, there are just some things I prefer to do the old-fashioned way. I have e-mail and my parents have e-mail, but if I want to talk to them, I call. It just seems right. I have a computer and printer, but if I want to write a letter to a friend, I sit down with pen and paper. It just seems right.

For six or seven years now, I've had friends and fellow writers trying to sign me up for the "wave of the future," e-books. I'm not opposed to e-books, but I prefer the old-fashioned ink and paper book. To me, it just seems right.

I've read two e-books, and I thought it was a miserable experience. I only finished them because I had promised both of the writers reviews. They were just too cold and impersonal to me.

I can't remember a time when I didn't have books around. I got my first one when I was in the crib, and still several years away from being able to read it. Since then, I've been surrounded by them. I currently own thousands of paperbacks and hardcovers that I've collected over the years, and that number will probably grow to thousands more before I die.

For me, reading a book is almost like a religious experience. I love the feel of a book in my hands. I love the smell of a book. I love to look at my favorite books on the shelf in my office. I love to browse through aisles in a bookstore. Those are things I just can't get from an e-book.

I have other issues with e-books. For one, they make books seem disposable. Just read and delete. I know you can save them, but what guarantee do you have they'll be there if you want to read them again? Not much. Lots of things can happen to zap them. It's one of my greatest fears of the convenient technologies we have, that the books, letters and photos that give us perspective on history will be lost to the generations that come after us -- gone because they're now in electronic rather than physical form. But that's a rant for another day.

As I said at the beginning, I'm not against e-books. If you prefer e-books, by all means, read them. If you've been published in electronic form, congratulations. It's tough to get published by a reputable publisher in any format. If you never want to read an ink and paper book again, don't. Just please don't try to shove e-books down my throat.

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