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A random thought on e-books

January 6, 2010

Catching up with Google Reader, I learned via Neil Gaiman’s blog that his story “I, Cthulhu” is posted online. I like Neil Gaiman, a lot. I went to Tor.com and checked out the story – cool illustration. If I had seen “I, Cthulhu” in a bookstore, or library, I would have picked it up. I might, might even have bought it. But the story is online – for free! – and I’m not going to read it.

Why? My eyes are tired. I spend a lot of the day at the computer screen, for work, for school, for email, for wasting time. When I want to sit down with a story, I don’t want to sit on a desk chair. I want to feel something heavy in my hands, turn pages. I don’t want to scroll.

“I, Cthulhu” appears to be an old story. Maybe it’s in print somewhere, and then I’d be interested. But even after taking a computer break, I know I’m not going to go back to Tor.com.

E-books – and what they mean for the future of publishing – are exciting, offering enormous potential for authors, publishers, retailers, readers… and they’re something I have to embrace as a wannabe publishing employee. But a little part of me – okay, sometimes a really big part – puts up a sturdy wall of resistance. Maybe once I get a Kindle I’ll be blown away by its convenience and instant accessibility to so many works. Or maybe I’ll be psyched to read on one of these:


But right now, I’m going to go get an actual book.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2010 3:08 pm

    Good points, I think I will definitely subscribe! I’ll go and read some more! What do you see the future of this being?

    • January 13, 2010 5:54 am

      Thanks for visiting! A great and very difficult question! I think e-books and e-book readers will change the field of publishing, the way authors write, and the way readers read, in an enormous way. A few years from now, we could be reading a book on a Kindle or similar device, and have (get?) to watch a book trailer at the start of a book or between chapters. We could instantly look up definitions for unknown words and concepts, and parts of the text could link to all sorts of other materials – multimedia additions to the story, author interviews explaining the writing process, images of the characters, other readers’ comments… authors could even be updating/re-writing as we read! But, I don’t think that e-books mean the death of print. I believe that there will always be a market for readers who want a physical book. That market may drastically shrink, but and many readers, like me, love and prefer the experience of reading a printed book, and people also collect books as cultural capital (or for decorating!).

      What do you think?

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