We live in an age of unrivaled choice. I feel fortunate to be able to choose among various platforms and media to experience art and information. I love books and reading, quality paper and the culture of art and literature that has passed into the 21st Century.

But…the times are a-changin’ as they always do.

I’ve lived through the evolution of typing, from an office manual to electric, electronic, word processors and computers, and now mini-computers. I’ve watched film all but disappear in the face of digital, and now the transformation of the book is upon us.

As others have noted, physical books will stay with us for years to come–we will continue to have choices. But economics and common usage will decide the issue for most of us and the reading industry. A few years ago, I noticed one or two Kindles per trip on the New York subway. Today, I might see three riders in a row reading an ebook. Say what you want to about pros and cons, ebooks are winning in the usage department.

I have not purchased one yet. I tend to be behind the curve in personal technology. But I have no doubt that soon I will own too; a big reason, in my case, will be saving space, as I have books and papers all over the place, with no room to expand in my Brooklyn apartment.

I will savor my old-fashioned library, which will shrink as I move and pack the dust-catchers. The last book to go, if ever, will be a first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, signed by my father.

By Hudson Owen, comment in response to The Annoyances of eBooks, by Megan McArdle, The Atlantic 5-20-11

Advertisements