Monday, September 13, 2010

A Screen Too Far?

Unlike TVs, phones, computers and the format we use to listen to music, books have been largely resistant to any technological advances. Books are still…books. Made out of paper and all the pages are bound together with glue.

Books have been resistant to change, that is, until now. Now there are all sorts of E-book readers flooding the market. (For the luddites, an E-book reader is a device that can store hundreds of books electronically. Like an iPod. For books.) The iPad has iBooks (surprise, surprise), where thousands of titles can be downloaded on the iPad and read at the owners comfort*. Amazon has also got their own E-book reader, Kindle. It, like the iPad, stores thousands of books. And it isn’t even twenty centimetres in length.

This all sounds like good stuff. Of course it is more practical to own an E-book reader than to lug around a handful of books. But do I need another screen to look at? I own a CrackBlackberry, which constantly provides reasons for me to look at it: text messages, emails, Blackberry Messenger messages (of which sixty-five per cent are nonsense) Facebook (more nonsense), Twitter updates and a growing number of apps. I’m currently staring at an oversized monitor, typing this out. Every so often my eyes flick over to the TV. After a night out I tend to flick through the pictures I’ve taken on my digital camera. Even in the mornings I stare at the screen that tells me when the next Underground train is arriving (this is mainly because on the London Underground a minute can last anywhere between thirty seconds to three or four minutes).

Owning an E-book reader would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I cannot bear having something else with a shiny screen to look at. @Dan_Gould (via @TarikF) summed it up perfectly (if you replace the word ‘computer’ with the word ‘screen’):
The traditional book is simple, yet effective. Sticking it behind a screen will not make me want to read any more than I do now. An E-book reader is just another example of how heavily reliant on technology the world is becoming.

*In my opinion, reading from screens is about as comfortable as having a pen jabbed into your arm. But that’s just my opinion.

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