06 April 2009

A dim future for p-books?

Josh Marshall wrote:

Finally, only a few months ago, I purged a decent chunk of my collection. And most are now in storage. But in our living room we have two big inset shelves where I keep all the books I feel like I need or want ready at hand. And last night, sitting in front of them, I had this dark epiphany. How much longer are these things going to be around? Not my books, though maybe them too. But just books. Physical, paper books. The few hundred or so I was looking at suddenly seemed like they were taking up an awful lot of space, like the whole business could dealt with a lot more cleanly and efficiently, if at some moral loss.

I’ve never been one to predict the death of paper books. I’ve experienced the same thing he has, though.

When I actually tried the Rocket eBook, I soon found myself reading it more than paper books. When I actually tried reading books on my Palm, likewise. I recently bought electronic copies for Stanza of most of the books that had been piling up on my nightstand and returned the paper copies to their owners. If I was OK with reading on the screen of my Palm V, how could I not be OK with the iPhone’s screen?

No matter how much the “experts” pontificated about the deficiencies of all these devices for reading, none of their arguments has held up for me in practice.

Maybe p-books are doomed in the long run, but I expect they’ll always have a place in my home. Indeed, I’ve got a duplex printer and a saddle stapler because I enjoy making booklets from PDFs.

What I really want is all my books to be digital but with the equipment and the freedom to create hard-copies of those I want hard-copies of.

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