Saturday, 12 May 2012

Ebook vs. BOOKbook

It’s been a rising trend for a few years now and is pretty much in full flow by now, and the idea of discussing its relevancy is in itself pretty much irrelevant already.  It’s here and it’s not going to go away any time soon.  Be that as it may I still feel the urge to talk about ebooks.

I don’t like them.

So yes I’m one of those old-school grumps who likes having books on my shelves, and I want to whinge about my concerns.

The benefits of ebooks are easy to understand, ‘easy’ being the operative word.  It’s convenient to be able to have a multiple books on you at any time while avoiding the bulk.  Ebooks are also generally cheaper and aren’t susceptible to running out of print which avoids heavy browsing for obscure titles on auction websites.  But while easy is one thing, lazy is another.  I can’t help but feel that publishers who can’t be bothered to maintain an inventory will simply refer their readers to their digital copies as an easy out.

The issue of digital content has often been highlighted in the media, particularly towards the issue of copyright and piracy, but also that of ownership.  It’s easy to pass a book on to a friend, but the idea of switching USB sticks with a friend could prove legally inviable (if it isn’t already, excuse my ignorance).  Also the digital world is very fast moving.  Formats quickly come and go and entire collections run the risk of being outmoded in a few years.  It already happens with home media such as video games and films every decade or so, so it’s not impossible.  Just how much do you own that comic, and how reliable and sustainable is the current format?

For me comics are about the physicality of turning the page to discover more of the story.  I also like the idea of publishers going to the trouble of making an actual product as opposed to taking my money in exchange for a data file.  Materialism can be counted as a character flaw, but once I’ve got that book that, it’s mine and I can do what I want with it.  I can throw that shit in a time capsule, and it’ll work just as good when I dig it up again in 50 years’ time.  I don’t need to update my eyeballs, and I don’t need to shove a compatible rechargeable battery into it either.

I do think that content for short-time use it quite a good idea.  Things like Viz’s weekly Shonen Jump Alpha and Yen Press’ monthly Yen Plus are as immediate as they are disposable.  So long as a proper edition is later available I’m up for it.  The real flaw in my argument?  I don’t own a dedicated e-reader which opens me up to cries of ‘if you had one you’d so convert!’.  Sorry, but I don’t see it.  If I wanted one, I’d get one.  I can already do it via my PSP or desktop, but I choose not to.  Even now I don’t like reading webcomics unless they’re doing something with the medium that only the digital medium could provide (like inserted flash animation or similar).  Some people go for that, and that’s fine, but given the option I’d take hardcopy any time.

1 comment:

  1. Although I've never tried it, I don't like the idea of reading comics in particular on an e-reader (because of the screen size being quite small, thus necessitating zooming in to be able to read certain panels - seems like it would totally ruin the flow of a comic).

    I'm also not a big webcomic reader, and prefer to keep up with printed issues of small press stuff rather than read a page or two at a time.

    In contrast tho I quite like my Kindle for novels, and my opinion of e-readers has changed 100% since I was given one a year or two ago. I would never have bought one for myself and had a pretty low opinion of e-books, but I find using the Kindle to generally be a really good reading experience!

    You can lay it flat and turn pages easily with one touch of a button, so its easy to read while using both hands to eat a meal (I often read while eating brekkie/lunch etc). Also its light, portable and (at least my gen 3) is solidly built, so I don't feel like its going to break at a moment's notice.

    The only thing I don't like about the experience is that I don't have a cool looking series of novels to put on a shelf after I've finished them (but with the amount I read that's probably for the best, to prevent death by falling book piles ^^; )