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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Default E-books are Damaging Society

    Jonathan Franzen: e-books are damaging society
    Jonathan Franzen has launched a passionate defence of the printed book, warning that our desire for the instant gratification of e-books is damaging for society.
    By Anita Singh
    29 Jan 2012
    The Telegraph

    Excerpt:
    The author of Freedom and The Corrections, regarded as one of America’s greatest living novelists, said consumers had been conned into thinking that they need the latest technology.

    “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.

    “I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change.

    “Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don’t have a crystal ball.

    “But I do fear that it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.”

    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.

    He said: “The Great Gatsby was last updated in 1924. You don’t need it to be refreshed, do you?

    “Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing - that’s reassuring.

    “Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough.”

    Franzen said he took comfort from knowing he will not be here in 50 years’ time to find out if books have become obsolete.

    “I’m amused by how intent people are on making human beings immortal or at least extremely long-lived,” he joked.

    “One of the consolations of dying is that [you think], ‘Well, that won’t have to be my problem’. Seriously, the world is changing so quickly that if you had any more than 80 years of change I don’t see how you could stand it psychologically.”

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  2. #2
    Sniffles
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    I still prefer physical books. Trying to read long texts electronically hurts my eyes, and whenever I see an interesting text online I often print it out.

    Just last night I watched this video of cultural historian Peter Burke give his take on the issue, and parallels my thoughts closely:
    [youtube="F7EsomTPmfw"]Burke on media[/youtube]
    He starts talking about it @2:25.
    Last edited by Sniffles; 02-02-2012 at 03:35 PM. Reason: sorry corrected time

  3. #3

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    No, but plagiarism is a legit issue with the self-publication facilitated by e-books: http://www.typologycentral.com/forum...14#post1779914
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  4. #4
    Senior Member lauranna's Avatar
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    @Vasilisa I can't decide. I mean i much prefer paperback books the old fashioned way. But for practicality and stuff, carrying around a kindle at work is far easier.

  5. #5
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Luddites are (miraculously) failing to damage society.

    EDIT. "My definition of good technology is that I can spill water on it and it would still work!"

    That's my definition of an umbrella. Or my big toe.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  6. #6
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    I like physical books too, but I also own a Kindle and really like it, as well. I hardly think e-books are ruining society. I understand his comment about businesses conning people into thinking they "need" the most recent technology, and I also get that it does feed into the problematic expectation of instant gratification that is so prevalent in US society. But e-books are hardly the first example of people thinking they "need" the latest technology, nor the first symptom of the instant gratification craze. Both of those things were off and rolling before e-books ever came around.

    My own feeling is that I like the Kindle for several reasons:
    1. When traveling it is a GODSEND, as it seems like I'm always about to finish one book right before I leave, so I have to take at least 2 books with me. It today's world of baggage restrictions, that space is at a premium, plus, books are heavy. With the Kindle, I can bring 10 books with me if I want to, and it fits easily in my purse.
    2. Reading in bed. It's much easier to hold a Kindle up than a heavy, hardback book.
    3. Saving money. E-books are less expensive, and you can get most of the classics for free. I realize you can do that at the library, too, but it's so much more convenient not to have to physically go to the library. I still enjoy doing it from time to time, but this way it can stay something I do when I have time to go there and browse and relax, not just run in and run out in a hurry.

    That said, I do still like physical books. What I think I will probably do now, is buy/borrow most books for Kindle, but if there is one that I really like, I can buy a "real" copy to keep in my library.
    Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.

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  7. #7
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    I hate reading books or articles from computer screen. Actually i hate it so much that even tho i got many books i would want to read, im not reading them..

    Some articles are ok, but if they are more than few pages long it gets frustrating to read them. For some reason i cant concentrate well and even tho the text im reading is interesting, i usually stop reading after a while and move to doing something else, like hoping that there has been some useless new posts on some forums. I think most i have been able to read from pdf is around 10 pages..
    "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
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  8. #8
    morose bourgeoisie
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    I don't think ebooks are ruining anything. People's attention spans is shorter for other reasons that are only tangentially related.

  9. #9
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    Trying to read long texts electronically hurts my eyes, and whenever I see an interesting text online I often print it out.
    Reading long things on the computer screen hurts my eyes, too. But Kindle>>>>computer screen!
    Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    I love physical books but I have a Nook, a Kindle Fire and an iPad. I bought the Nook first and it all hinged on if it was comfortable to use in bed. If not, I would have stopped using it. I read every night before I go to sleep. The e readers are definitely easier to use than most books. The iPad is much too big for reading, imo and I didn't get it for reading books anyway. I like the Kindle Fire a lot and find myself using it more than either of the other devices. I still buy physical books, cookbooks and things like that. E books are cheaper (usually) and since I already had an Amazon Prime account, it makes much more sense for me to buy for and use the Kindle. And it fits in my bag, I can use it anywhere, especially kids activities and traveling.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.

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