I go through periods, every so often, where I seem to obsess over things bookish. I am in the midst of just such a time. To be fair, it’s a critical time to be talking and thinking of books; books as we have traditionally known them are at the threshold of massive change – a tumultuous few years ahead. Similarly, as I become more comfortable with my ereader and the joy of instant gratification that downloading books offers, I find that my own desires are changing.
In the short term at least, I think pads (whether they be apple, asus or whatever) will not supplant eink devices for the reading of fiction. If the price of the high end eink readers (eg kindle, sony, kobo) drops lots (ie to double figures – possibly low to mid even) then I reckon ebooks will decimate mass market paperbacks. Such books were never really built for long term collecting: read now, toss later. I look at many of my older paperbacks and the paper has already yellowed, they definitely lack that new book shine – though my hardcovers still look and feel good.The basic fiction paperback tends not to last as well as the basic nonfiction paperback. The former was built for a single read, the latter for reference.
Already, when looking at books to buy, I am mentally deciding whether I want X in p or e. This is going to make my p collection a little odd – eg I have a few William Gibson books, though haven’t bought one of his in many years. The other day, I picked up the e of Spook Country for a mere US$6.40. At least in part, because I want to have an interesting collection of books to read when I travel. So too, I’m not going to seek it out in a nice edition, though that may change if it proves to be more than just a good read.
The downside of buying more e is that my sense of my books and their location in their bookcases will have to change. It’s nice having my books visible and physically accessible. With e, I’ll need to learn some new behaviours to manage the change in the medium of my collection. So too, when folk visit, they’re going to see the p but not the e, so conversations along the lines of “I see you have X, what did you think of it?” will change, as it will be the case that for some X there will be no visible component. I do like having my books on display, certainly to show off my passions to visitors but so too for my own desire to look at the books I own: for the memories they spark, the tangents, the odd laneways, the visual sense of a continuing journey.