10 Reasons E-Books Won't Kill Real Books 

In the 1930's, we were promised personal jet packs. In the 50's, we were told that classroom teachers would disappear: televisions would soon replace the persnickety Mrs. Hacksanstax at the front of the room.  Sixty years - and many broken technological promises later - we are being told that e-books will replace real books. Here's 10 reasons why I don't think so.

1. Paper books are real books. E-books are just temporary software. E-books won't fill my library's shelves. A house isn't a home without at least one bookshelf - a shelf full of old friends.

2. How many electronic gadgets would you take with you to a desert island? Batteries? Chargers? Cords? Error codes? I just want to turn the page and lose myself in this book.

3. Reading a book on a computer screen tires my eyes. Reading real books relaxes me. Wandering peacefully while browsing a bookstore is so much more uplifting than poking around on a computer screen.

4. Telling stories and creating books is a distinctly human endeavor. E-books, like computers, are inherently de-humanizing. Have you ever seen a signed e-book? How many fine, hand crafted, leather covered E-books have you seen? What makes your E-book unique?

5. Many people feel guilty throwing away a real book. Our collective society frowns on destroying books - maybe because it symbolizes hiding information and narrowing our collective consciousness. But E-books are just containers of fugitive electrons, waiting and ready to be dispersed on a whim. You can't hide a subversive E-book: Big Brother can 'Delete' with a simple keystroke. 

6. Radio didn't kill the movies. TV didn't silence our radios. The Internet didn't destroy our TVs. I still enjoy movies in the theater, at home from a rented/borrowed DVD, downloaded from the web, and on my iPhone. E-books are just another option. E-books won't kill real books, they'll just fracture the market.

Yes, I know that downloads and MP3s killed the music industry. But the music industry trained us to change formats frequently (records, piano rolls, wire, reel-to-reel, Elcaset, 8 tracks, cassette tapes, CD, MD, DCC - to name a few). Books have been around in their current codex format for close to two millennia. Real books won't disappear anytime soon.

7. For the casual reader, E-book economics just don't make sense. First I need to purchase a reader for $200. or more, and then download a file for about $10.00. I'd much rather head to my neighborhood used bookstore and purchase a paperback for $5.00.

8. How can I share (my expensive and fragile) E-book with my friends? It's much more personable to hand them the paper copy I just read. And with e-books, no more leaving your just finished paperback on the park bench for someone else to discover.

9. Gadgets are functional. Real books can be beautiful. Real books can be bound in fine leather, they can be decorated with elegant engravings. They can be illustrated with beautiful rotogravures or with carefully tipped in photographs. E-books replace these very human visual and tactile pleasures with pixelated JPEGs on anonymous screens.

10. E-books (and their variously formatted and therefore incompatible readers) are here today, gone tomorrow. Have you ever held an old book in your hand and thought about all of the others who have touched and savored and hated and loved that book since its publication? Real books can last lifetimes.

Respectfully submitted by

Pat Saine, Proprietor of Blue Plate Books


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