Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pondering e-books

Within my lifetime -- nay, probably within a decade -- ink and paper books could become as antiquated as leather scrolls.

Every day brings more news about electronic books, once a prop of sci-fi novels, now a reality. Borders is studying a plan to take over Barnes and Noble, and e-books are very much a part of the discussion.

It's exciting to think that I could carry around the equivalent of a thousand books or so, in my pocket, ready to whip out and peruse wherever I may be.

But knowing me, I would probably drop the thing in the washing machine or leave it in a meeting hall somewhere. Would my collection transfer to a new e-book machine?

What if some future government decided I had no right to read a certain book? Would it mysteriously vanish from my machine or be blocked from being loaded in the first place? Would Big Brother track my e-book selections to ferret out my seditious leanings?

9 comments:

BraveHeart said...

how do you feel about audio-books? can you stand 'reading' the audio way?

Eastcoastdweller said...

I listen to them in the car but other than that, no way! I like to go along at my own pace, not someone else's.

kat said...
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Eastcoastdweller said...

I read about that, Kat, and I am of mixed emotions. An unread book is of no value. If Huckleberry Finn, with its valuable lessons, is going unread because of one word, maybe that word needs to go. I'm trying to imagine how I would feel if I was a young black student assigned to read a passage from that book, aloud, in class, as often happens, as all the white kids snicker.

On the other hand, I despise censorship and the alteration of an artist's work. I remember that being one of the themes of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead.

kat said...
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kat said...
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Eastcoastdweller said...

Kat, I remember struggling through a read-it aloud assignment with Grapes of Wrath back in high school. I like Steinbeck but he can be quite coarse.

With all eyes on me, I read the profanity exactly as it was printed, mumbling it red-faced, but omitted the name of God used as an oath. It was a rough, rough day for a kid who already felt he didn't fit in.

I see your point, though. I see a great teacher using Finn as a teaching tool about the power of words and the irony that Twain was in fact quite an enlightened man for his day when it came to race. I see a lesser teacher not wanting to bother with it and thus a whole lot of young people missing out on the book.

The sad fact is, a lot of people never read any real books other than those assigned to them in school. Ergo, what the teacher doesn't assign, never has the chance to reach their hearts, minds and souls.

It may all be moot, though, as I have learned that someone else did the same thing with Huck Finn -- published a bowderlized edition -- years ago and it never got anywhere.

Trisia said...

I guess I don't mind it if children's abridged editions are bowderlized... but paws off the original, I say.

My only experience with audio-books was listening to "Screwtapes" in someone else's car. He had told me that he couldn't understand what the book was about, and why all the hype, and I understood why that day -- if only the actor had cared less for his evil snickering and more about the clarity of the sentences... ah well.

I've had my Kindle2 for a little over a year and I must say that there's nothing like it when it comes to reading public domain books from Project Gutenberg. It's light and slim, and you can get lost in the story, just as you would do with a printed edition. Lovely.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Trisia, I am eager and excited to try the Project Gutenberg connection. Most of the books I want to read are in the public domain, so that will be perfect.

Your audio book experience made me laugh.