Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Making Book on Kindle


Bought a Kindle Fire a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, I finally connected it to my home network. It took that long to discover the trick (WEP security cannot use passphrases.) Notwithstanding this connection (and through it, the Internet), I only bought the Kindle to assist my book reading. Recent eye problems have made reading difficult, and this Kindle has variations (color, brightness, font size, etc.) that help.

Now that I have true e-book experience, I should comment on the e-book versus book debate. Many people claim the printed book is obsolete, superceded by its evolutionary upgrade: the e-book. Many people are wrong.

Some things may seem obsolete, but will not die: e.g., huge printed phone books, yellow pages, et al. Why is money spent shipping dead trees to our homes and businesses? These exist because enough people still use them. Apparently, there are situations where print is easier than electronics.

Some say this Kindle can replace all my books. While it’s heavier than a small paperback (almost 15 ounces without any protective carrier), it can hold thousands of books—almost the weight of a car! But I’m not replacing my books, just supplementing them.

E-books are brittle, unyielding, and physically limited. The printed book is more resilient, flexible, and versatile. Here is a short list of things only printed books can survive: sand and suntan oil at the beach, spills from coffee and Coke, falling down a flight of stairs—on concrete, and an afternoon on the car’s rear shelf in hundred plus degree heat. Sharp objects can break an e-book screen, but only dent a printed book.

There are many arguments for and against, but printed books have one indisputable advantage over e-books: they will last longer. The life of computer storage media is very short, twenty years at best. My older books have outlived paper tape, punched cards, magnetic tape reels, various floppies, and hard disks measured in megabytes. I own many books older than me, and one over twice my age.

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