E-books, the real reading experience?

So I must admit I have always had a pretty set and sure opinion on e-books. Let me start by saying this, I just can’t see myself sitting down to read Jane Austen in the sunshine then looking down to find myself staring at the pages of her novel on, well essentially, a computer screen. Where has the magic gone? I don’t get to feel the pages or fiddle with the edges or mark my place with the bookmark my Grandma gave me. I love books, walking into a book shop, casting my eyes over the hundreds of titles, feeling surrounded by words and ideas. That feeling, in my opinion, just can’t be equated into browsing through a list of links on amazon.com.

But when I began my research I was willing to open my mind and see if I could be convinced that ebooks were the way of the future. So let’s consider the pros based on my research. First and fore mostly I had failed to consider the environmental benefits of an ebook, as Remez Sasson writes,

‘No trees are required to manufacture paper for the pages of ebooks’ (Source: Remez Sasson 2012, ‘The Benefits and Advantages of Ebooks’, Accessed at: http://www.successconsciousness.com/ebooks_benefits.htm ).

Next of course comes the portability of an ebook, lighter and smaller than most conventional books, there is obvious benefits with storage and transportation as Sasson also notes,

‘Ebooks take up less space. You practically don’t need any space to store them. You don’t need a library or a room for them. You can store hundreds and thousands of ebooks on your computer or reading device.’ (Source: Remez Sasson 2012, ‘The Benefits and Advantages of Ebooks’, Accessed at: http://www.successconsciousness.com/ebooks_benefits.htm )

Similarly noted in the article ‘The Ebook debate’:

‘…with my Newton I immediately recognized the potential of digital readers, since I quickly filled it with a number of books that I could carry around all the time.’ (Source: ‘The Ebook debate’ 2008, Accessed at: http://www.humanismus.com/_/The_Ebook_Debate.html)

I do see the potential in this aspect of the ebook and it’s ability to make life easier for the user. During my research I encountered the suggestion that perhaps the market for ebooks is for heavy textbooks, medical texts etc. That maybe the need isn’t there for novels, but perhaps for these forms of text an ebook presents great potential. This idea supported by Walt Crawford who states,

‘Forget replacing mass-market paperbacks; ebook vendors should look to replace bulky, overpriced, hard-to update, print books.’ (Source: Crawford, W 2006, ‘Why Aren’t Ebooks more successful, Econtent, vol. 29, no.8, pp. 44-44. Accessed: http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=2f3d9440-e24e-40c4-a52f-47c6a2017df7%40sessionmgr110&vid=2&hid=125)

On the contrary many still argue on my side, that the magic of books is simply that ‘the magic of a book’. But also the sustainability of the resource, a book essentially has the ability to last forever, although an ebook’s technology has the potential to become outdated. This idea is supported by the author Franzen, as noted in Anita Singh’s article for ‘The Telegraph’, ‘Jonathan Franzen: e-books are damaging society’:

‘“The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It’s a bad business model,” said Franzen, who famously cuts off all connection to the internet when he is writing.’  (Source: Singh, A 2012, ‘Jonathan Franzen: e-books are damaging society’, ‘The Telegraph’, Accessed: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/9047981/Jonathan-Franzen-e-books-are-damaging-society.html)

Finally Franzen supports my somewhat nostalgic ideas of books and memories of childhood and reading my great grandmothers copy of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and feeling a connection to the history of the pages.

‘Speaking at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia, Franzen argued that e-books, such as Amazon’s Kindle, can never have the magic of the printed page.’   (Source: Singh, A 2012, ‘Jonathan Franzen: e-books are damaging society’, ‘The Telegraph’, Accessed: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/9047981/Jonathan-Franzen-e-books-are-damaging-society.html)

My question, can an ebook every emulate this history and magic?

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