Thanks to lifehacker I discovered that Read an Ebook Week is in early March. The Epublishers Weekly blog has a post which covers “30 Benefits of Ebooks,” which while containing some bits of truth, if you will, is mostly IMHO made of up bad logic and spurious reasoning.
I will not waste my time deconstructing all 30 reasons but will comment on a few of them.
1. Ebooks promote reading. People are spending more time in front of screens and less time in front of printed books.
Uh, how does this follow? We (even I) may be spending more time in front of our screens but we might just be looking at photos on Flickr, watching YouTube videos, surfing for porn or any of 1000s of possible activities which have absolutely nothing to do with reading an ebook. And while much of our online activity does involve reading it may not include reading books.
2. Ebooks are good for the environment. Ebooks save trees. Ebooks eliminate the need for filling up landfills with old books. Ebooks save transportation costs and the pollution associated with shipping books across the country and the world.
And the manufacture of all these electronic devices and the electricity to power them, including all of the many highly toxic components and manufacturing processes do no damage to the environment at all?
3. Ebooks preserve books. … Ebooks are ageless: they do not burn, mildew, crumble, rot, or fall apart. Ebooks ensure that literature will endure.
Ha ha ha ha ha. This is one of the funniest, utterly stupid comments I have ever heard. Digital preservation issues anymore? Format migration?
7. Ebooks are portable. You can carry an entire library on one DVD.
So those books I carry with me pretty much everywhere are not portable? Certainly ebooks are more portable in quantity is the point but make it more clearly then!
14. Ebooks are free. The magnificent work of Project Gutenberg, and other online public libraries, allow readers to read the classics at no cost.
“Right!” said with a proper Bill Cosby accent cause my public library charges me $5 just to walk in the door. Not!
21. Ebooks, with their capacity for storage, encourage the publishing of books with many pages, books that might be too expensive to produce (and purchase) in paperback.
Perhaps true, but it goes against any and all conventional wisdom that I’ve heard or read about the length of electronic materials read by people. I guess one could make a 2500-page PDF but who the hell is going to read it?
27. Ebooks defeat attempts at censorship. All these works were banned: Analects by Confucius. Lysistrata by Aristophanes. Ars Amorata by Ovid. Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio by John Milton. The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne. Wonder Stories by H.C. Andersen. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Ulysses by James Joyce. … Many of these books were confiscated, burned, or denied availability in libraries, bookstores and schools. Ebooks guarantee that readers maintain their right to read.
All I can say to this one is “Seriously WTF are you on about?” I bet I can find everyone of those at both my public and academic library. And censorship certainly exists on the Internet.
Now clearly there is some value in this list. Some of the author’s points seem perfectly valid, although there are more I could pick on. But the ones I did highlight seem egregiously spurious to me.
I would like to see the proliferation of more widely available ebooks that are cross-platform, free of DRM, and in formats that are easily migratable to new formats when required. I would also like to see some of the possibilities that the author says may come to pass do so.
Nonetheless, this silly list will do nothing to change my reading habits. I read both online and in print and I print a lot of stuff that came to me electronically. Both have various affordances even now, but many of the affordances that the author claims for ebooks are nonexistent for most ebook formats at the moment.
I despise most marketing and spurious marketing really gets my goat!
So read ebooks if they work for you. If they don’t then don’t worry so much about some of these reasons.