...oh, I can't go on.
I'm getting right jack of sentiments like the above. They've been cropping up for years, but with the rise in eBooks and eReaders, they've become the go-to argument for every neo-Luddite who fancies themselves a literary Imelda Marcos.
|"This one has a surprise twist ending."|
And that's no good, because books are great. They've been great since Gutenberg dropped a few k on a few moveable ks and wound up inventing modern printing. They've been great since before Bede was Venerable. They've been great since an Egyptian worked out you could twist reed into papyrus; since a caveman discovered you could scratch out a few thoughts about your day spearing bison on the dried ass-skin of that self-same bison.
Hell, even the Bible got a few people in.
Yes, books vary in quality, but even the trashy ones have their uses. The Da Vinci Code, for example, makes an excellent door stop.
But what is new, or interesting, or dynamic, or even relevant about this anti-electronic cliche anymore?
It seems to me that this humble information-delivery-via-paper-bundle (the essential nature of a book) is being co-opted by literary elitism.
Now I don't own an eReader. I've never even used one. I'd probably get frustrated with the damn thing and resort to reading the included instruction manual instead.
But I've got no beef with them - because it's not the fact that they contain information that's changing. It's just the delivery method that's evolving.
And it may seem heartless, and soulless - but hey, we've largely moved on from vinyl. Sure, MP3s may not have that rock 'n' roll authenticity but at least you can put your iPod on for 17 days straight and never hear the same song twice.
Now here's something controversial.
I enjoy books. I really do. But I don't need or want to be completely surrounded by them.
I've done the collecting things. I've done my time at Lifeline Bookfests, shoving dog-eared tome after tome in a plastic bag so I could get my $5 worth.
But you know what? At least half of them went unread. Not enough bookshelf space means they went in bags or boxes.
And then they began collecting dust.
Oh, you try to deny it, book-lovers, but you must admit - books collect dust like Charlie Sheen collects evidence for the prosecution.
Yes, you can clean. But if you're like me, you don't clean enough. Not enough for books. The dust gets everywhere, in little piles. My apartment is starting to resemble Episode 1 of Red Dwarf, after the radiation leak.
The other fallback argument against eReaders is the romanticisation of the bookshop.
You fiend! I hear you cry. Again, I'm not anti-bookshop. Bookshops are great. Lovely places.
Of course, they're starting to shut down now, but that doesn't take anything away from the delight of browsing a bookstore.
But does it make me an inherently bad person if I tell you that while I find bookshops perfectly delightful to pop into, I would MUCH rather spend my time-wasting time at Priceline, or in the cosmetics department at Myer? Why? Because it's even more haptic than books. Because YOU CAN'T TEST OUT JEAN-PAUL SATRE ON YOUR FACE.
Well, unless you're Simone de Beauvoir.
I'm sure these feelings make me some sort of hollow mannequin of a woman, devoid of humanity and feeling. But I fail to see why you have to parade around an obsessive compulsion with the printed page to be considered literary or clever or in touch with stuff.
My point is - stop writing columns, blog posts, opinion pieces about how GREAT bookshops are and how WONDROUS books are and how they'll NEVER replace them with ebooks and Kindles and iPads and spangly text wheels and whatever gadget they think of next.
If you're going to turn people off eReaders, you're going to have to come up with a better argument. It's not like they're aren't any. Cost and catalogue availability, to start. I'm sure writers with more intelligence than me (and that's quite a few) could brainstorm a few more. Maybe they need some inspiration. Might I suggest curling up with a cup of tea and a good book?