A Cause Worth Killing Trees For

“John Scalzi”:http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/ “writes on writing”:http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/004072.html today and talks a little bit about the e-book. I think we both agree that the e-book will never completely replace the physical ink-on-paper book because:

bq. It’s convenient, the access is intuitive, and it’s cheap.

I completely agree. I have tried reading e-books, and it’s not easy. Scrolling down the screen is clunky and cumbersome, hitting the ‘Page Down’ button every time you are ready to move on, or using the scrollwheel on your mouse, or clicking repeatedly on the down arrow on the scrollbar. I did manage to read through a book on my Palm, at the expense of killing my battery and nearly wrecking my eyes. ((And it was a pretty bad book. No wonder it was a free download.)) It’s just difficult to flip through the pages of a book that has been digitally rendered.

Besides, there’s just something about holding a book in your hands. Books are highly portable, they’re easy to flip through and find just what you’re looking for, and they smell good (usually). There’s just something about reading a good book from actual, physical pages that going digital will just never be able to capture or replicate.

I have a fairly extensive personal library that is constantly growing, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the digital books in the world. As much as I love computers and love the storage capacity of digital, I still want all of my books sitting up on the shelf where I can see them and grab one if I want to.

I do agree, though, that digital is a potential boon for the short story. Already we are seeing a lot of bloggers who write short stories and post them out to their sites. Plus, I’m a regular subscriber to the IGMS(Intergalactic Medicine Show), which is a SF&F magazine that exists exclusively in the digital medium. And that works very well. It is nothing to sit down for a half hour or so and read down through a short story. But I sure wouldn’t want to read an entire novel like that. Give me my books any day.

Have anything to add to the conversation?