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A LUDDITE’S JOURNEY ON THE E-WAY OF LIFE part 1

October 20, 2011 2 comments

 

“Books? We dun’t need no stinkin’ books*!”

[*Books being defined here as real books…aka, the kind that are printed (gasp) on paper (faint).]

It’s hard being a Luddite, especially now in the “E-Age” (E for Electronics). Luddites, as a rule, are opposed to new technology or technological changes. Granted when this term was first used it was back in the early days of the Industrial Revolution and the “new technology” that got everyone so hot and bothered was an automatic textile loom…but I think the term is still viable.

For some of us.

Okay…for me.

Now, that being said, let me just add that I am more “Jack-Luddite” than a pureblood. For instance, I use a computer! It may have taken me a bit longer than most to get comfortable using it (like years), but I now do most of my writing on a computer, can receive (and send!) email, finally figured out how to “cut-and-paste” things and, as you all know by now, am on Facebook.

Woo. Hoo.

But I’m still a Luddite at heart and I miss things…things that I took for granted because I always thought they’d be around.

For instance:

Typing

       And believe me, “Keyboarding” is not the same thing. There was something so soul satisfying about hearing the clickity-clickity-clickity-DING-craaaaaaaaank-clickity-clickity. [As a Luddite I never owned an electric typewriter.] And something even more soul satisfying when, on those rare occasion when a story “wasn’t going well” when you could 1) tear the paper from the typewriter, 2) rip the offending paper into a million bits, and 3) throw the typewriter across the room.

        A computer is a wonderful tool, but it doesn’t have paper you can tear up and if you only get to throw it across the room once…to realizing how expensive it is to fix.

 Libraries

       Even after I got “comfortable” with using my computer as an “upgraded typewriter,” I would still go to the library to do research. I loved being surrounded by books as I sat at a table, looking up the facts I needed, with a pad of paper and pen close by to jot down notes (yes, I am that old). I had heard about things called the “Information Superhighway” and “Google” and “Wikipedia” but…heck, I wrote horror, not Science Fiction!

       Then, one cold, snowy day, I needed a fact and didn’t feel like getting bundled up to drive all the way across town to the library and, well…the rest is history.

Bookstores

       To paraphrase a popular song from my era:

       “Where have all the bookstores gone?

        Long time passing.

       Where have all the bookstores gone?

       Long, long time ago.

       Where have all the bookstores gone—

       Kindle’s killed them everyone

       When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?”

Answer: Never. We’re not going to learn because this, as the majority of the population has agreed to accept, is progress. Out with the old, in with the electronically brilliant NEW!

And finally, the things I miss the most:

Books

       Okay, I’m ready. Roll your eyes and shake your head; snicker under your breath and flip open your Kindle or Sony or Nook or Kob or Pandigital or download the right APP to your smartphone and hold it up to the screen. E-show me the “book” you’re currently reading.

       Yes, all right, there you go… I stand corrected. You’ve just proven to me that books still exist.

       Or should I say E-xist? And you’re right. It might be hard for a Luddite like myself to accept but I have to face the reality that there are many more e-books available to the public then the actual, real, can-hold-it-in-your-hand kind (aka REAL books).

Progress.

And don’t get me wrong. I don’t really HATE e-books with an undying passion that would melt the sun with its intensity and throw the entire universe into a never-ending emptiness. Heavens no. In fact, I currently have an e-book of short stories out from Necon Publishing called “Sympathy for the Dead” (which is also available as a POD book-in-hand. Hint. Hint).

But, that being said, I worry that someday, real books may go the way of Dodos and Snow Leopards and Liberal Republicans—a truly endangered species without hope of a breeding program. And, seriously, why would they? E-books are inexpensive to produce, electrons are definitely greener than chopping down trees, they can be downloaded instantaneously, and the supply is virtually (hah hah) limitless.

The important thing is, I’ve been told by many e-readers, is that the books will survive. The stories they tell will go on. And isn’t that more important than the format they’re in?

Yes.

It is.

100%

However…

Wanting to be as fair and impartial as I can be (considering I’m a Luddite and all) I decided to do a comparison between E-books and Real Books. The results are below:

 

E-book Real books

Fits easily in the hand Fits easily, unless by Stephen King

Can be read in bright sunlight Ever hear of “Summer Reading”?

Has it’s own light for night reading Book lights—cheap and they work

Fits conveniently in your pocket or purse They’re called paperbacks

Can hold 160–1500 non-illustrated books 2 hands = 1 book

Easy to recharge No recharging necessary

Doesn’t do well if dropped in bathtub Can be dried out, but will be “fluffy”

Reasonably priced downloads Not as cheap as they used to be

Can download anytime, day or night Need to know store hours

Initial cost of reader a bit pricey Even HBs cheap by comparison

Adjustable print size LARGE PRINT available

Make wonderful gifts Yes, they do (and cheaper!)

 

There. A fair-ish comparison, don’t you think? The e-books do win on some fronts, real books on others…but there is one thing that will always make a real book better than an e-book: You can get books autographed.

True, I’m sure there is some program, somewhere, that will e-print an author’s e-scrawl onto the first page of an e-book, but it won’t be the same.

Will it?

 Write on!