Anke (ankewehner) wrote,
Anke
ankewehner

Books: It's not the content that counts, it's the image?

Originally published at ankewehner.de. You can comment here or there.

I've come across some interesting articles on the topic of what an ebook is worth, mostly in context with pricing, but came across one that is particularly baffling today - because of the implications about the worth of books in general.

According to this article, Joan Brady, an award-winning writer (info on Wikipedia) argues that paper books will stick around because they are statud symbols, like Rolex watches and four wheel drives. (Apparently in her world, people who have to drive along dirt tracks don't exist.) Books people would not like to admit to reading will be sold as ebooks, but books people want other people to think they have read will be bought in paper, so they can be put on a shelf to show off to visitors.

Now, some of that makes sense, as does pointing out that being unable to pass on ebooks legally is a disadvantage, but it seems far too polarised to me.

She said that once an e-book has been bought, it is “more worthless than used toilet paper, which can at least end up as compost”.

This line makes me wonder if Joan Brady has been quoted badly out of context. Buying an ebook means having access to the text, to read it whenever you want. Declaring that worthless sounds to me like declaring the actual content of the book worthless. What kind of author would have the attitude that what matters is the block of pages with a recognisable cover, and the "status" that owning it conferred, but not the writing?

I don't think print will perish any time soon. Some people just prefer paper, print books are handy for many kinds of reference works, coffee table books or well-crafted hardcovers are things of beauty. However, I buy those because I need or enjoy them, not to sway other people's opinion of me. (Mind, I do like sharing books I'm fond of, which may shade into showing off on occasion.)

What do you think? How important is the "status" or "shame" factor to you when it comes to letting people know?

This entry was also posted at http://anke.dreamwidth.org/180244.html. You can comment wherever you prefer.
Tags: ebooks
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