What’s wrong with e-books?

What’s wrong with e-books?
Nothing, unless you are a print publisher, bookseller or ardent bibliophile. E-books have received a lot of adverse criticism, but is it justified?
I have a Kindle. I love it. It allows me to take a whole library with me wherever I go. And I have a mix of books loaded into it. I have the complete works of Jules Verne, all fourteen of Frank L. Baum’s Oz books, “Moby Dick”, Charles Dickens. And, my secret pleasure, a whole stack of Doctor Who novelisations. And I can take all of them with me anywhere.
Some of the books I have on my Kindle, like “Moby Dick”, I possess in “real” book for as well. Redundant? Not really. I’ve read Melville’s classic twice now and will no doubt read it a few more times before I go.
To me, the pleasure of reading is in the reading, not in whether I am holding paper in my hands or seearching through a book shop. Most book shops bore me to tears, and the ones with coffee shops attached to them are screaming out they are in financial trouble. Serving coffee to bring the customers in? Perhaps. There is a popular bookshop here in Brisbane that has a café attached to it – the problem is, the café is bigger than the bookshop and is the first thing you encounter as you walk through the door.
I read to read, not experience some sublime physical state of grace. I read because I like the story or the characters or I want to be entertained, not because, like Luke Madsen suggests in his article “Tatty books better than none at all” (Courier-Mail, 8.12.11), there is some olfactory joy in it. He seems to smell his way through a book.
E-books are a fantastic development, and the only people losing out seem to be the publishers and booksellers who, understandably, are missing out on the cash. Sure, some stuff doesn’t deserve to be published, and e-books allow anyone with a computer to publish whatever they damn well please. But rubbish literature usually goes one of two ways: either it isn’t read, so no harm done, or it sells millions, in which case good luck to them.
Failing to embrace the future is a mistake made too often. If publishers jump on the e-book phenomenon, they just might stay in business.

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