The Digital Age

How many of you have a Kindle, or a Kobo, or an iPad, or some kind of tablet to read books on?

Look over at your bookshelf – is it dust-ridden and neglected? Empty of new titles, just filled with forlorn, sagging books that were read years ago and now abandoned?

Yeah. I thought so.

The digital age is upon us.

Even “Queen of the Bonkbuster” Jackie Collins is experimenting with digital self-publication with a new edition of The Bitch. Star of 27 Hours and Creative Writing PhD graduate, James Franco, will be publishing his novel Actors Anonymous under online giant Amazon’s publishing arm – whose little black book also includes Deepak Chopra.

Working in publishing, digital publishing looms ever closer – even for educational texts. We are asked to think more and more about a digital option, and what impact digital publications will have.

There are varying opinions on digital publishing – from snooty disdain, to dismissal, to poorly shielded excitement. But whatever you feel about it – whether you see it as an easy form of self-publishing or the brand new generation of books – it’s coming, and it will be big.

My feeling? I haven’t quite figured that bit out yet.

I don’t have a tablet to read electronic books, so I still carry a tome of paper sheaves in my bag – tattered and dog eared and marked with tea stains – I still browse the Waterstones bookshelves with glee, and I still love the smell of real books. So maybe I’m one of the Old School – who turns their nose up at these new-fangled doobries that conjure hundreds of  books at the swipe of a finger.

But who am I to disregard the future? The convenience of one, slim, flat machine in a bag, with the variety of a whole library. The ability to simply log on and download something brand new, sitting on a train or in the middle of nowhere. Newer, cheaper, faster, more convenient. What could be so wrong with that?

The piece where I take issue is the idea that some books will only be available on a tablet. How is this fair? For someone like me, who has no access to a Kindle or an iPad, I won’t be able to read these books, purely for the reason that I’ve not got the money to spend on something I don’t need yet (I have 3 bookshelves of books waiting to be read). It’s all well and good encouraging a new form of publication, opening the market again to new and different writers. But why are these books good enough to be read electronically, but not on paper? Surely they are the same words, same story?

Anyway, I digress.

What do you think of the brand spanking new Digital Age?

[And stop laughing at the word spanking]

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2 Comments

Filed under Booky things

2 responses to “The Digital Age

  1. I can’t resist – and will never abandon – the smell, feel, and dogeared pages of a print book. However, I do own an e-reader and must admit that it’s extremely convenient. You’re right that the Digital Age is coming, however will the print book really ever become obsolete? Maybe, but I sure hope not!

    Great Post! 🙂

  2. Honestly, this dilemma is kind of hilarious. I mean, can you see an old scribe about 1000 years ago looking at a book and weighing out the pros and cons of either one, trying to figure out if the books, with its leafing pages is really easier and more manageable than the scroll? Change to the cross over generation is really hard.

    I feel different after reading a digital book over an actual book, book. Something about how quickly you read a page and finish it kind of blows me away. I tap my way through a book on my Nook much faster than I ever read any real book. There is a smaller sense of accomplishment afterwards as well. I usually weigh the pages between each hand as I read a normal book, but now I am left to either not pay attention or look at two numbers at the bottom of the page, one the page I’m on, the other how many are in the book.

    I love that I can take it places more easily and buy books on the go, but I still go to the book store to browse, and I I buy actual books offline quite often. I haven’t made a complete conversion. I don’t think I ever will. I find actual books I am reading beyond pleasure, either for research, reference, or a hands on novel that I refer to more than once, I have to have in an actual hands on copy. Digital copies totally erase that “I read that in the second paragraph of chapter six…” feel where you can trace back to where you remember such and such happening in the book. It’s all the same on a digital page. You could just as easily read whatever on page 12 as page 60. There is start and there is finish, and a few chapter markers in between.

    To me, the digital age of books is more for entertainment than anything. Yes, I do believe the publishing world will switch over completely eventually, but that time won’t come for a while yet. Books for real mean too much to too many, are too much of a conversation item on the shelf, and provide way too many tangible pluses to eliminate for good just yet. Someday, probably a three or four generations from now, a younger generation will come along who doesn’t know the attachment of the physical, hand held book. Until they come along, the digital age is just going to have to tolerate their older counterparts.

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