No industry seems to embrace change completely without hiccup, so it makes sense that there’s a little bit of a price war going on among the major publishing forces. Except for the ability to get immediate access from anywhere, e-books will probably find it hard to compete if they cost more than the paperback version does with free shipping on Amazon.
For an unabashed book lover like myself, you’d think the advent of digital books would be met with great rejoicing as an occurrence that makes books easier to access than ever. And e-books are available anywhere at any time. I’m still not totally sure what I feel about them though.
There’s really not much point in wading into all the reasons e-books are or aren’t awesome. Those have all been covered many times. I read e-books, and they’re alright, but I find books printed on paper better for me personally. A paper book helps me get closer to the reason I like books in the first place, just words on a page with minimal distraction from what you experience while reading.
But format aside, a book is words, on a printed page, an e-ink display, or an LCD panel. A book is not a magazine, a newspaper or a website. If I wanted multimedia graphics I’d go find one of those. A book is ideas expressed through words.
Let’s not allow our excitement about the possibilities of devices like the iPad or Kindle Fire distract us from what a book is. But just because a rich canvas for multimedia magazines exists doesn’t mean that the book itself should go extinct. There will always be a place for the words-only medium. If we lose that, we’re losing an important part of our culture.
A book is pure thinking and imagination in a way that a picture is not. The writer has to express himself in words, and the reader has to interpret those words correctly. Cavemen drew pictures. Civilizations kept drawing pictures but learned to write. We should never let that get away.