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E-book cartoon shows (kid holding paper book) It's okay, I guess. I just miss the tactile experience of swiping to turn the page.

A real page-turner

A real page-turner published on 2 Comments on A real page-turnerPurchase print

My reading has reached the point now where there are some books I prefer to read on paper (e.g. mystery novels), some on an e-book reader (e.g. science fiction and other novels), and some on a tablet, so I can see the diagrams in glorious colour (e.g. software guides).

And I suspect this may be where we land for quite a while, with our reading spread across several platforms depending on which one does the job we need it to. Print books aren’t dead yet, and won’t be for a long time.

Print newspapers, mind you—I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, in Canada at least, the days of the printed local urban daily newspaper are coming to an end. (The economics in the U.S. are a little different, I know; the legacy of CanWest/Postmedia debt casts a long shadow over the whole industry north of the border.) My wild-ass, irresponsible prediction? The costs of printing and distribution are going to sink them within (takes breath, looks to the ceiling) three years, except for maybe the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.

And then in three more years, we’ll all be laughing that we ever thought e-readers and tablets were going to last… and then go back to reading J.K. Rowling’s latest, laser-projected onto our retinal implants.


Thanks, Rob. Whenever I hear someone say that they consider e-readers an inadequate substitute for books because they lack the ‘tactile’ aspect, I have to wonder how an e-reader is NOT an object, with its own ‘tactile’ aspect.

THEN I have to wonder, as an author, if I was ever told that the most important thing about my book was the ‘tactile’ aspect – and not the story – I’d want to shoot myself. I mean, seriously, if you are reading a novel and you aren’t sufficiently absorbed by the story that you can’t put aside whether or not it is pixels or ink spots then we are looking at a pretty sad book. You should probably just stop reading and go for a walk.

Absolutely! I suspect part of it is that, if your experience of reading books is almost all on paper, then your positive associations are very much bound (sorry) up with that physical medium. And I’m not immune to that; the sight of a row of book spines feels very much like a menu of untapped possibility to me.

But I’m not sure how much my kids will feel the same way. Their first experience of one story I expect they’ll pass on to any kids they might have was as a webcomic. And they’ll just as happily read on a Kindle (if it’s text) or iThing (if it’s a graphic novel) as a paper book.

Now, once you get me started on DRM and limits on lending and such, I get a little less sanguine. And yeah, the contradiction between my open media beliefs and my Kindle usage weighs on me.

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