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Currently Reading: The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Reading technology redux

Shortly after I made this post about emerging reading technology I checked in at John Scalzi’s Whatever and noticed a post covering similar territory (ebooks in particular). I link it here because in certain circles his opinion carries a little more weight than mine. For those contemplating clicking through, Scalzi briefly compares reading off the Nook (dedicated ebook device) with using his phone (Droid X), computer monitor, Ipod Touch and Ipad.

Scalzi also brings up a point I very much agree with and forgot to make myself. Even though I appreciate the ability to read on my phone, I do not think ebooks are going to kill paper books any time soon. For me (and Scalzi), the reason is the collector’s urge. A bunch of accessible computer files will never fulfill my desire to have stuff. I have heard authors like Brandon Sanderson and Cory Doctorow explaining their willingness to offer free content (in the form of entire novels) through their websites – they believe that people will continue to value hard copy books as souvenirs of the reading experience.

Anecdotal evidence incoming... I attended Aussiecon4 (Worldcon) in early September, meaning that I was entitled to vote in the Hugo Awards and therefore received the electronic voters packet. I now have electronic copies of The Windup Girl, The City and the City as well as every other prose work nominated for a Hugo. Yet I bought The City and The City in hardcover before going to Melbourne because I loved it. It didn’t hurt that I wanted Miéville to sign it. Author signings are not impossible with ebooks (I saw Cory Doctorow sign someone’s Ipad) but there’s only so much space to fill up.

On a similar topic, authors can’t sign your book over the internet. As I mentioned in an earlier posts, bricks and mortar book stores will always be the hub of the speculative fiction community (especially those specialist stores like Infinitas and Galaxy, for those in Sydney). Fans who want to continue to have the opportunity to meet writers outside of conventions, and people who want to participate in the speculative fiction community, need to support these book stores

No matter how easy the e-reading experience becomes, I won’t stop buying ‘real’ books any time soon.

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