Thursday, August 26, 2010

iBooks: My take 

I love the march of technology, and I'm often a pretty early adopter of new gadgets. But I can't get on board with iBooks. Here's why, and maybe someone can chime in with something that will challenge my outlook.

1) I don't need to have many books with me at once. This is frequently cited as a great thing about digital readers. Which I suppose it is, if you're a student and can get a bunch of textbooks on there. But a book isn't that heavy*, and I only read one at a time.

2) Why worry about another expensive gadget? I was just at the beach. The last thing I would've wanted was to have a Kindle with me. What if I get sand in it? How do I leave it at my chair while I swim or walk, without worrying about it?

3) My books don't run out of batteries. I have to take like five chargers with me on vacation, and that's enough already.

4) You can't borrow e-books -- yet. I do like to buy some books, but I also use the library. Taking that option away is hugely problematic. Perhaps sooner rather than later they'll figure out a simple way to let you "stream" books. But until then, who wants to pay for every single book they read -- and then not even have a nice bookshelf full of titles to look at and remember fondly, or lend to friends and family?

5) It just feels oogy. I love the way it feels to crack open a new book. I like the way the pages smell. I like the way it sounds to turn a page. It just feels weird and sterile to use the gadgets.

6) I love getting packages in the mail! Aside from potentially putting a lot of sooty paper mills out of business, the only plus that I can see is downloading books instantly. That's cool, in theory. But in reality, I don't think I've ever needed a book right then. And I actually like ordering from Amazon and then getting that package in the mail a couple days later. So few happy things come via snail mail these days. Packages are still great fun.

The world may ultimately make my decision for me. But until then, I'm clinging tenaciously to the printed page.

*Exception: Under the Dome, by Stephen King, which I bought last November and really want to start already, but it's too massive to lug back and forth to work! Guess I'll have to make that one an at-home-only project.

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