Paper books – from my cold, dead hands

Last week, I was fortunate to have dinner with Rick Chapman, author of In Search of Stupidity, who had come to Vermont to speak at the monthly meeting of the Vermont Software Developer’s Alliance.

Rick is an software marketing guru who also author’s the Softletter newsletter for software company business owners. He is also someone who does a lot of trend analysis.

During our dinner, the conversation shifted to e-books. Rick is sure that e-books, when the devices reach the right form factor and functional features, will replace books. I said,”No way. I love books. You’ll have to take them from my cold dead hands.” (Very creative of me, eh?)

He couldn’t be convinced; but I know I love books. I know I love it when I get to add the latest read to my bookshelf. I love reading in bed and I love carrying a book with me when I travel. One argument of his was “aha – so how many books can you carry on a plane? Wouldn’t an e-reader be better?” My reply was that it didn’t matter because I can’t read that fast anyway. One book will usually suffice for a plane trip.

I love the different fonts that are created for letter presses. I love the varying quality of the covers and the paper. I love the feel of the paper.

It’s probably why I also always enjoy Charles Petzold’s many posts about his books. Today he wrote about digital vs. paper books and wondered about wanting to re-read a book after a decade or two. If it’s digital, what are the chances of the original technology/format that the books was delivered in still existing, or the device still even working. But if it’s a book on his bookshelf, no problem. Just pull it out and read it. Maybe a little dusty, perhaps some yellowed-pages, but there for all time.

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3 thoughts on “Paper books – from my cold, dead hands

  1. I think the problem with planes is that it is likely they will make you turn of your "electronic device" during take-off and landing, which makes your e-reader useless during those times anyway (and those are the times I most want to be distracted!) I’m pretty flexible aobut how I read books – I’ve used my Pocket PC and I still use traditional paper books. These days, I’m also reading a book via RSS feed (, which is an enjoyable way to make sure I regularly read a classic book. I’d be interested in an e-reader, but the price would have to be a lot cheaper.

  2. Yeah… I’m not so sure it’s a question of electronic books replacing the printed kind. Movie studios worried that VHS and so on would replace theaters but that never happened. In fact, some people go to the theater, then BUY the DVD later on. My hunch is that we might just adapt in similar ways. I’d love to be able to get magazines and even blog posts and technical books on an e-reader – just to make them portable. But there’s no way I give up real life printed books for good. That said, I’ve read a number of digital books in the past, and once your brain gets past the initial differences (which really only takes a few ‘pages’) it’s a perfectly pleasurable experience.So i see e-books just being a new/additional medium – not being a replacement.

  3. I agree that ebooks are not going to take over our paper versions….if it did happen..and no more books were ever printed, I dont think reading would be as enjoyable anymore, it would be so impersonal. Everything seems to be electronic these days..and reading a printed book..seems to be something so simple in life. we must keep it that way.

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