Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Becoming a Digital Agnostic

I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again: I make no claims to being any sort of publishing industry expert, pundit, or guru. I'm also about the biggest luddite you're ever going to meet. Back in the aughties I resisted first cell phones, then texting. I don't own a microwave or a working television. However, it's my very technophobe tendencies which make what I'm about to say seem a little bit significant to me: I've stopped minding about e-readers.

I still understand the emotional arguments against them. Who wants to curl up in bed with a piece of hardware? And what about the wonderful object quality of books? Indeed, working for a house that publishes almost entirely illustrated and visual books makes learning and thinking about e-publishing very interesting. If I was a fiction editor I admit I'd be pretty freaked out about my new books selling more and more as digital editions for $9.95, rather than as $24.95 hardcovers; whereas with art books, their very object-ness is a big part of what makes it seem like we'll likely see both print and digital versions thriving side-by-side in the future.

So what sold me on e-books? Reading. As much as I love books (and I love them a lot), I love reading even more. One of my favorite things to see is people reading on the bus. And I realized--I don't really care if I see them reading a book, or a kindle, or an ipad, or what have you, I just love that they're reading. I love looking around a crowded bus and seeing bunches of people with their heads buried in their novels--whatever the form--and knowing that though their bodies are here, their minds are inside an entirely different landscape. Good for them. Good for all of us. Quibbling over the format is starting to seem as silly as railing against the advent of the paperback in the 1930s. Literacy. Never a bad thing.

image source is here and here

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