Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Reading for dummies

Peter Rukavina has a new e-book reader. No, it’s not an iPad, or a Kindle. It’s not a Kobo, or a Sony Reader. Rather, Peter’s new ebook reader is a human being named Shawn, who runs a local copy shop.

In the interview of Peter, he explains that he has tried several e-reading methods but, at least for now, cannot get past the need for a visceral connection to the physical book itself, i.e. page turning. Not even the sweeping motion used on his iPod Touch is good enough. So he's printing out ebooks at a copy centre and reading them that way.

As soon as I heard this I thought of an analogy to show the silliness of these kind of argument. Scribes writing out texts by hand by candlelight complaining that authors today typing their work on a computer just doesn't have the same feel. No one would argue that we should go back to hand-writing as the primary method of book
production. (This example is somewhat coincidental: I thought of it during the interview before Peter said that he was a printer by trade. Printing. The necessary middle step between manuscript and "compu-type". I used a computer keyboard as a bigger contrast to hand-scripting but I could have used the printing press and the argument would have been the same. It may actually be ironic in the true sense since he claims his bias against ereaders is based on his love of printing.) And we're not trying to replace typing with some sort of light-pen writing simulator (although many mobile devices have hand-writing translation tools, they're usually for quick notes not trilogies).

Too often people make these snap, emotive judgments about new ways and new technologies. The argument "it's not what I'm used to" may be ok for some, but isn't missing out on a new way worse? It's one thing to "triage" change so you can actually get on with your life, but it's another to consciously use that as an argument to do things the old way.

[ Initiated by Full Interview: Peter Rukavina on paper e-books from CBC Radio's Spark ]

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