Feb 2, 2012

Jonathan Franzen thinks E-Readers will Doom us all

Jonathan Franzen, although not yet out of his forties, is looking to grab Andy Rooney's Curmudgeon Laureate title.  To put it mildly he isn't a fan of e-readers.  In fact he thinks that e-readers are "damaging to society," "not for serious readers," and "incompatible with responsible self-government."  He also thinks that there is not the permanence with the digital as there is with the paperback.
I for one don't think that acidic paper filled, mass market paperbacks are a very good standard bearer for permanence, but it is true the digital is ephemeral (unless you posted it on Facebook). I actually don't read e-books.  I like the analog book.  It is comforting to me.  I view it as an artifact, something I like to see on my bookshelf ready for a thumb-through for some elusive quote or fact.  But on the other hand I imagine that I will switch to an e-reader one day.  The technology is still in its infancy and even though I find them clunky and impersonal at the moment, they will soon get better.

Now if you want to read a great response to Franzen, go over to The Crux and read the smart as a whip Carl Zimmer's Ebooks:More Boon to Literacy than threat to Democracy.

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