The e-book’s not for burning

Dwight Garner, book critic for the New York Times, recently wrote a fascinating piece taking a look at the value of e-books as a medium. I was particularly struck by the idea that you couldn’t burn an e-book, so the book fascists will never again be able to tell us what to read. Here’s the beginning of the article. Click on the link below to read the rest.

Illustration: Jeffrey Fisher

THE case against electronic books has been made, and elegantly, by many people, including Nicholson Baker in The New Yorker a few years ago. Mr. Baker called Amazon’s Kindle, in a memorable put-down, “the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of.”

The best case I’ve seen for electronic books, however, arrived just last month, on the Web site of The New York Review of Books. The novelist Tim Parks proposed that e-books offered “a more austere, direct engagement” with words. What’s more, no dictator can burn one. His persuasive bottom line: “This is a medium for grown-ups.”

I’ve been trying to become more of a grown-up, in terms of my commitment to reading across what media geeks call “platforms” (a word that’s much sexier when applied to heels), from smartphones to e-readers to tablets to laptops.

It’s a battle I may lose. I still prefer to consume sentences the old-fashioned and non-green way, on the pulped carcasses of trees that have had their throats slit. I can imagine my tweener kids, in a few years, beginning to picket me for my murderous habits: “No (tree) blood for (narrative) oil.”

It’s time to start thinking, however, about the best literary uses for these devices

Read the rest here:

 

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