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~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Why does the ebook scare us? 
20th-Nov-2007 11:19 pm
Gorey02
After all, behind all of our long, logical--not to mention hilarious--lists of reasons why the ordinary book is still superior to the newfangled electronic one is, I would argue, fear. Fear not of the ebook in principle, of course, or even of the exigency of reading text on a screen (which you're presumably doing right now). Rather, what terrifies ardent readers and book lovers like us is the possibility, however remote, that it will one day totally replace that category of material object that we traditionally call "book."

For, if this were to happen, we would have to change ourselves. It is a conceit to believe that the self and the object are mutually impermeable; in fact, objects cause the body and the mind to change in fundamental ways. Remember learning how to ride a bike or how to type? Imagine the trauma and dislocation you would feel if, tomorrow, all QWERTY keyboards were reformatted into a different arrangement of letters. We would be suddenly forced to learn a new system, and it would feel like a violation of our person.

And thus it is with the ebook. All of that subconscious, learned knowledge that accompanies the act of reading (how to hold a book open, how to turn a page, how to flip back and forth among chapters, how to mark passages or write in the margins, etc.) would no longer be directly applicable to an ebook. The ebook makes us feel unmoored from the known, bodily experience of reading a book, and that insecurity makes us profoundly fearful.

Granted, I do not think we'll be saying goodbye to our friend the book anytime soon. Old and new technologies exist simultaneously. We have print AND radio AND television AND Internet AND telephone AND cellphone all at the same time. Who would have thought forty years ago that email and IM would become common forms of interpersonal communication? It is quite possible that the ebook form will soon enter whole-hog into our collective consciousness...but this does not spell automatic death for the humble book. Perhaps someday it will go the way of the Sumerian clay tablet, but not today. Or the next day, either.

So relax. No need to be scared. ^_~
Comments 
21st-Nov-2007 06:37 am (UTC)
There is something about snuggling up with a book that I love, though. I just don't get the same feeling from my computer screen.
21st-Nov-2007 06:44 am (UTC)
I love reading by myself in bed. (Which, if you believe the stuff I've been reading lately for school, is a learned, culturally specific behavior that did not exist before a certain period in time.)

I have trouble reading anything much longer than a magazine article on the computer. Certainly nothing seriously intellectually challenging. A part of me sardonically wonders if perhaps the solution is a more comfortable desk chair. :P
21st-Nov-2007 01:56 pm (UTC)
I agree with this comment.

I was basicly going to post the same thing when I read this entry. But, it's been done.
21st-Nov-2007 12:52 pm (UTC)
You’ll take away my book when you pry it from my cold dead fingers!! ^_~

But you know, cost is a huge downside for me.. My shelves are packed with books that were under $10 on closeout; paying $400 for a player plus $10 for each book download doesn’t make economic sense ^^

And I’m not totally unadaptable to new tech.. After all, I learned to type on an IBM Selectric, and grew up in a world with no email, digital cameras, or mp3 players ^_^;
21st-Nov-2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
That's my big problem. In my mind a "book" isn't something you're supposed to need additional equipment (save for light and reading glasses) to enjoy. While I can appreciate the advantages of an e-book reader on a theoretical level, they just don't offer enough additional simplicity in comparison to print, which has no access fee.

IMO, e-books are going to have to succeed on a device that isn't primarily an e-book reader like an iPhone.
21st-Nov-2007 01:30 pm (UTC)
i fear change i fear change i fear change

*bangs head on floor*
21st-Nov-2007 04:38 pm (UTC)
If I had an e-book, it would be for reading at work and during travel. I'm sticking to the joy of paper in my hands and the greedy possessive part of me loves the sight of books on my bookcase^_~
21st-Nov-2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Did you click on the link I posted in the entry? It's a funny argument as to why the ebook reader isn't good for travel. ^^;;

the greedy possessive part of me loves the sight of books on my bookcase

*nods* This is what I'm referring to. It changes the way we act toward books--and this changes how we view ourselves as, say, "book lovers." What if we didn't have mountains of books to hoard? How would our self-image be forced to change? ^_~
22nd-Nov-2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
The guy protests too much^_^

I don't know what it says about me but I imagine my self-image wouldn't change too much. My mom already thinks I spend too much time on the computer, if I started reading e-books that view wouldn't change.
22nd-Nov-2007 06:17 pm (UTC)
I started reading e-books that view wouldn't change.

How would you feel if you, say, were forced to read all your books in ebook form? That proposition doesn't bother you at all?
22nd-Nov-2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
My eyes would certainly protest and I'd get migraines more frequently. Plus I'm a tactile person, I love touching paper and book covers^^
23rd-Nov-2007 08:16 am (UTC)
Well, they say that the E Ink technology is easy on the eyes. (No backlighting.)

You've yet to disprove to me that people resist the ebook because they don't like the idea of being forced to change profoundly in some way.
23rd-Nov-2007 08:26 am (UTC)
*grins*
But why should I disprove you? I personally don't run after the newest thing if I don't need it. And as you say publishers are concerned about their profits and book lovers are mostly an old-fashioned bunch. Book reading is not a fashionable past time and I don't think e-books will catch on like mobile phones did.
23rd-Nov-2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
Because it seems like you were trying earlier? ^_~

In a way, I really want ebooks for all the textbooks and academic mongraphs I have to read these days that are so expensive or inconvenient to get in print. But, on the other hand, the kind of intensive, interactive reading that those sorts of things require don't exactly lend themselves to the ebook format...or at least I'd have to learn a new way of reading... *sighs* Trade offs, trade offs.
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