Friday, 5 June 2009

The death of books

I've heard about this a lot lately, mostly on different blogs. The emergence of the Kindle; the development of digital paper; the spread of online books; the death of the physical book.

I hate the sound of this happening.

You can't replace a book, that physical object in your hands, that cover, those pages, that spine, the blurb. You can't replace a bookcase. An online book seems stupid. My eyes get tired after staring at the screen for too long, and I'm paranoid that a virtual book would be corrupted, that I'd lose my licence; that there'd be a power failure and I'd lose my whole library. (Having experienced similar things with DRM music — such as my licence magically disappearing off the computer that I bought and downloaded the music on — I'm none too keen to repeat the experience with books.)

I always prefer something physical, something tangible, to something that only physically exists on a screen and in a corruptible hard drive.

How appalling for writers, too. I can't imagine selling a manuscript and never getting the actual, beautiful book; only seeing it sell online.

I know I'm old-fashioned, that the world is moving forward without me — an appalling thought when you're in your twenties — but the concept of a digital book being preferred to a physical book, seems almost laughable. The concept of physical books actually starting to go out of business... I guess if it wasn't so horrific, it would be laughable.

Music and movies, I don't mind. I prefer legally buying and downloading my music to buying a CD that will, no matter what I do, get scratched. Music I can transfer onto my mp3 player, USB drive, CDs, whatever I want. It's more convenient. It works.

But books... they have to be physical, or it simply doesn't work. It's just such a foreign concept that I can't think of anything else to say about it.

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