karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

Are ebooks vampires?

The British paper The Telegraph ran an article by author Andrew Keen that's gotten some web ink. Mr. Keen is not afraid of expressing his opinion, as seen in his title: "Ebooks will make authors soulless, just like their product."

The many commenters who weighed in did not, as a rule, agree with his assessment. They skewered his arguments with comparisons to other technological changes (clay tablets to papyrus, scrolls to books, etc.), and lamented his misspelling of another author's name. One reason eReaders seem to provoke so much rancor is that almost all the people who buy them are avid readers, book lovers to the core. On the other hand, the people who don't like ebooks because they so enjoy the sensory part of reading print books are also book lovers. Naturally, passions are going to run high.

Mr. Keen appears to take the sensory side to a new level. ". . .I want my work to be fingered by my readers. I want young women . . . to wait in line for me to sign copies of my work. Like a character in a Stephanie Meyer fantasy, the e-book drains the blood from the physical text. No, this cultural revolution can’t be recommended."

Actually, I think that quote sounds kind of icky, like he wants all his readers to stroke the book as a substitute for stroking him. With that kind of guiding principle, we should all be reading in Braille. And I think Mr. Keen is missing the point. The purpose of books is to entertain and to inform, to allow the mind of the author to connect with the mind of the reader. That can happen when the "reader" listens to a book, or sees it or feels the words with his fingertips. The formula is simple:

    Writer's brain ----> Words -------> Reader's brain

Everything else is merely a question of format, which has always and will always change with time.

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Tags: e-boks, ebooks, ereaders, publishing, technology

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