Sunday, May 1, 2011

SF and Ebook Readers

SF has an interesting relationship with words in print.  Some don't seem to think there will be any print, most seem to presume we read our text digitally.  I only know of one book, Ben Bova's Cyberbooks, that focuses on digital readers.  It's a very minor work of his. It's an insider story on the publishing industry, with an e-reader business conflict as the driver.  It was written in the late '80s, and there were some early tries at CD-based ebook readers on the market, so one couldn't say it was super-speculative.  But I read it with interest, because 1) I was a practicing librarian at the time, so SF about books was really different, and 2) I figured that's where we were going someday.

The day pretty much arrived with the advent of the Kindle a few years ago, and now we have the Nook, Sony's ereader, and many other entries.  Our family has just dove in with both feet, purchasing both a Nook (color version) and a Kindle (base model).  I'll be trying both out in my future reads, and will include some comments on the reading experiences in this space.

Would I miss paper, if it passed?  I like to think not.  I've never had trouble with screen reading, and the Kindle's e-ink display pretty much bypasses that problem.  The modern readers provide a fine reading experience.  Most important is that I've never been that attached to having books.  Having access to the books is sufficient, and digital access is much more convenient than the library, as important as I think that space is today.  Books as physical objects are mostly clumsy and inconvenient to own, as far as I'm concerned.  To the extent they survive, it will be as art--goodbye mass-market paperbacks, and good riddance.

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