Monday, 29 June 2009

Digital books

All the talks and discussions about the Google Book settlement and Scribd, who are trying to digitize millions of books to make them available on the internet, got me thinking about my idea of a book. I have always been a book lover, and there are certain book series I have been collecting for a long time. It is a wonderful feeling to see the complete series of a book standing on my shelf. I also have a thing for first editions of books, the older the better. I like being able to stand in front of my book case to choose a book I haven’t read in a while.
Now there are a lot of people who read their books on the computer or on their e-reader. They just buy this book as a file online. Granted, you can save a lot of space when you have all your books as files. But personally, I cannot imagine reading a book on a screen. I spend too much time on the computer anyway. Also, laptops and e-readers are quite expensive, and I wouldn’t want to take either of them with me on a holiday. On the beach they could easily get damaged by sun, water or sand. And certainly they would hold more of an attraction to steal than your paperback book. There are also some places where you should not turn on some electrical devices, like in hospitals or in planes during take-off and landing. You have to be careful about that, too.
I might be a bit sentimental when it comes to that, but a book to me is still something I can touch, hold in my hand, take with me everywhere and put onto my bookshelf.

I understand the need to digitize very old books though. There are a lot of great books that aren’t available anymore nowadays. And there are also a few books without an existing copyright holder. To have these books on the Internet does make sense.
But other than that I prefer having a real book. And I have been talking to a couple of people who share my ideas. One of them said she likes reading a book while taking a bath. Now that would be really difficult if you have your book only as a file.

I am interested what you guys out there think, though. If you want to share you views, feel free to do so.

So long, Susanne

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