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Old 09-20-2008, 08:51 AM   #14
zelda_pinwheel
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Location: Paris, France
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well, i love a well-made book as much as anyone. i enjoy the feel of quality paper, i appreciate on an esthétic level a well-designed cover and a lovely typeface with a nice layout. i don't intend on getting rid of ALL my paper books and i don't see why ebooks *should* necessarily replace them completely, ever (or at least, not in the near future).

however, i found the overwhelmingly positive attitude towards paper books of this article a bit... exagerrated, even misleading.

books are inexpensive : the last paper book i bought cost me 18€. granted, that's cheap compared to a sony, and granted had i waited for the pocket edition it would probably have cost 1/2 or 1/3 that. but nonetheless it adds up. buying books is an investment. i could never afford to pay for every single book i read ; thank god for my public library.

The book is readily portable... well, the omnibus volume of Léo Malet's Nestor Burma novels i have weighs probably about 2 kilos, which is far too heavy to cart around town in my bag, and printed on onionskin paper, which makes it particularly fragile, especially since the publishers in their wisdom did not see any necessity to provide a rigid cover to protect this unweildy, fragile mass ; just a slightly heavier (but very supple) stock with a plastified treatment. i wouldn't carry that book with me anywhere except from the shelf to the chair, and it's so inconvenient to read that i can't read it in bed. it's a lot like trying to read a telephone directory (remember those ?). ever see one of those in mint condition ? not after being used once or twice...

Being modular, it is easy to store. ...assuming you have the space. i emphatically do not. i'm pretty sure i'm not alone in this. the poster whose mother has litterally a ton of romance novels that she cannot get rid of probably would also disagree that paper books are all that easy to store.

Oh, and probably lasts forever. ha !! tell that to my litterally DOZENS of cheaply-made paperbacks whose pages are falling out in clumps ; tell that to all the paper which has turned yellow with age and become so brittle that even turning pages with precaution they will frequently tear, or corners will break off completely. "forever" ??? most of those things were probably printed in the 70's. that's barely long enough for them to be read by 2 generations of readers. and that's leaving aside the fact that if they are stored in a humid house they will mold and rot, and i won't even mention the more "extraordinary" damage than can be done by babies or cats or natural disasters like floods or fire...

...the book can easily be recycled. well, there is a whole thread around here about the greenness of e-reading as compared to paper, so i won't try to address this, except to say that even recycling is an imperfect solution, not least because it's not reliably done. (and for all the other concerns, see that other thread).

so there are some interesting points in that article, but i think people are so overwhelmingly attached to the idea of paperbooks that to some extent they lose objectivity. that's normal ; there is clearly an emotional element involved in reading and there is to some extent a fetishistic element in our relationship to paperbooks (for some ; not all, clearly). hopefully the blinders will start coming off soon though.
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