Monday, January 28, 2008

Changing tides

Blechta at the controls.

I had the chance to spend time recently with two young computer hotshots. Now I should state off the top that I'm a bit of a techno-weenie myself and when a new advance in computer technology comes out, I am generally all ears, and sometimes even shell out my hard-earned money. (I bought Apple's Leopard operating system just before Christmas.)

What we got talking about is publishing -- in all its facets. Naturally, I'm a traditional book guy. I like to read something made with paper and ink that you can hold in your hands, carry around, and if it falls in the water or gets lost, you're not going to have a hairy fit (unless it's one of Charles's books).

One of them was having none of that. "It's all going to be electronic books in 10 years, maybe even 5. You watch."

Having the perspective of more accumulated years than him, I could say with the full weight of history behind me that I'd heard all that before -- certainly more than 10 years ago when it was said that electronic books were going to be the next wave of digital innovation. "So what happened?" I asked, after pointing this out.

"The technology sucked. They've got that fixed now," he assured me.

"Oh really?"

The other person (a female and the guy's significant other) added, "Show him your reader. This is the future of books, and it is so cool."

He handed me that new electronic reader that Amazon rolled out with such fanfare a few months ago. They call it the Kindle.

"It reads like real paper!" the advertising trumpets.

Oh really?

Those of us who work over computer screens with our writing for far too many hours every day, know how difficult staring at a computer screen gets after awhile. I played with the Kindle for nearly an hour and at the end of that time, I decided that while it's a step forward, I'll stick with paper for a few more months. Sure I can download a book in just a few minutes, but do I really need that? It shows you where you stopped reading, but can't I take out that postcard Vicki gave me for her new book and mark a page with that?

I could go into a whole raft of other shortcomings and very few improvements that it has over "real paper", but the long and short of it is, a book is still better. When I want to hold a book reader more than I want to hold a book, then I'll be convinced. The Amazon Kindle didn't give me that experience.

And I'm not being a Luddite here, either. I swear!

I gave these nice youngsters a signed copy of one of my books. I'm not really sure if they felt appreciative or insulted.


Rick Blechta said...

I meant to put something more in my entry.

Who else has fooled around, or maybe even bought, an electronic reader? What did you think of it? Is this where the future of reading is really going? Would you read as much as you do now if all that was available were electronic readers?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Charles benoit said...

I just want to know if my publisher plans on getting me on that bandwagon.