The archaic argument:
Books bring us endless joy — today they even evoke in us a sense of nostalgia. Have you ever found yourself ranting on about that familiar smell that we all look forward to on walking into a bookstore or the texture of pages?
Have you also found yourself using this as a rationale against the latest electronic books?
So maybe we’re a bit old fashioned. I was someone who completely related to this archaic argument, all for romanticizing about the sensory pleasures that books bring us. A few years ago I was stumped when I had to argue against the relevance of books in a school debate.
There’s the knowledge factor: I mean how else would we KNOW anything if it weren’t for books? What about history? But the logical conclusion for us is unthinkable because we grew up with an abundance of books.
Of course there are lots of generations that didn’t.
Pre-book to post-book age:
So what about the time before books existed?
Historical periods like the Indus Valley civilization are obviously recorded in books today, but it’s thanks to archaeology that we first learnt about these people. People who lived in the pre-book age naturally found other ways to record events: tablets, stones, the barks of trees. It’s all about being resourceful.
The next question is then are we moving to the post-book age? Maybe it’s time for a new era: the era of ipads, kindles and nooks, of “e-books.”
Nostalgia is natural:
Of course we hate reading on a screen; our eyes hurt. It’s one of the first complaints I hear when commending the e-books. Don’t you enjoy turning the pages of a book? Yes we’re definitely old-fashioned.
But there’s always a sense of nostalgia, or an inexplicable attachment that emerges to things of the past, when technology overwhelms us with some futuristic gadget. People have the same arguments about reading the newspaper, but more and more are moving to online news sources.
Maybe the first generation that was introduced to books had a similar nostalgia to whatever it was that preceded books. There has to be something special about etching out a message in stone?
If you’re an environmentalist, you should be supporting the eco-friendly ebookseBooks. But there are other reasons for why e-books are practical. Nicolas Negroponte, the founder of One Laptop per Child and author of “Being Digital,” recently wrote an interesting piece that explores the potential of these gadgets in solving the problem of illiteracy. “The only way to provide books to the 2 billion children in the world is electronically.”
There are undeniable advantages to the e-books and I’m not going into each one of them, but simply trying to get you to think differently about them.
Being lighter in weight for one, is something you should appreciate if you walked up 5 flights of stairs in school with a back aching from the burden of bulky textbooks.
In an age where we download music, watch movies, book our flights and even order food online, every aspect of our life is pretty wired-up. It’s almost naive not to expect that we’d be reading books on screen in a few years.
Give it time before the technology Technology has becomes more most user-friendly and affordable. The resolution will become better and only come closer to mastering the look of a book. As for schools going digital, South Korea has already taken the first step.
I still am a book-lover. After all I grew up in the age of books. But we’re moving to an age where information is slowly congregating to one interface: the internet. So unfortunately how much ever you let your emotions hold you back is only going to make the transition more difficult for you.