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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Electronic Books vs. Bound Books

People are telling me they think bound books are going to become obsolete. Nonsense, say I!

Ok, there are some advantages to electronic books, so I will concede a few points:

• You can use the power of the computer to find a passage quickly.
• You can store thousands of books in relatively little space.
• The pages don’t wear out with use.
• Every book weighs the same—the reader is relatively light weight.
• The reader fits into a purse or pocket more easily than most books do.
• New technology is being developed all the time to improve the electronic readers and the books.
• Certain e-readers allow you to read in bright sunlight.

But look at these huge advantages for hard copy books:

• Books are easy for anybody over age four of any ability to learn to use.
• Your eyes don’t get as tired. The difference between 150 or so dpi on the electronic reader or computer screen and 1200 dpi in a book is pretty significant over time!
• You can read a paperback in the bathtub or pool or wherever, without risk of destroying the book if you accidentally get it a little wet.
• Books depend only on your muscle power to work, not on electricity.
• You can read any book in almost any weather.
• You don’t have to wait for a book to boot up, you just open it.
• You don’t have to learn any fancy shut-down routine for a book, just close it.
• You can flip back and forth between widely separated pages with ease and spontaneity.
• Good-quality books are durable, given reasonable care (they don’t crash or suddenly become unreadable because the file got corrupted).

Quality books will never be replaced by technology. There’s something physically satisfying about a great book with a beautiful cloth or leather cover, a stiff spine, and crisp, clean pages that fall open to your favorite scene. I’m always amazed that on Antiques Roadshow none of the books brings a high price like, say, a painting, or a piece of old furniture. The rarest books are not even close! But to me they are priceless.

That’s why I will never have great heirlooms to hand down to my children. I am rich in my books!

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