Book v kindle: let’s have a pointless debate

1 03 2012

Does it matter?
No. I still like books but now prefer to read most things on the iPad. So why are people getting quite so exercised about it? It really isn’t the end of civilisation.

Ye olde books

Tim Parks in the New York Review of Books offers a thorough and utterly sensible commentary on ebooks and concludes:

The e-book, by eliminating all variations in the appearance and weight of the material object we hold in our hand and by discouraging anything but our focus on where we are in the sequence of words (the page once read disappears, the page to come has yet to appear) would seem to bring us closer than the paper book to the essence of the literary experience. Certainly it offers a more austere, direct engagement with the words appearing before us and disappearing behind us than the traditional paper book offers, giving no fetishistic gratification as we cover our walls with famous names. It is as if one had been freed from everything extraneous and distracting surrounding the text to focus on the pleasure of the words themselves. In this sense the passage from paper to e-book is not unlike the moment when we passed from illustrated children’s books to the adult version of the page that is only text. This is a medium for grown-ups.

The end of civilisation

It’s a powerful and compelling argument and really difficult to disagree with. The debate really is pointless. So can we move on now please?

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