You may have heard, Borders Books is going out of business. If you ‘own’ any eBooks, particularly from Borders, you might be interested in the email I received recently:
I generally like technology, and I am always interested in ‘the next big thing’. On the other hand, I’m something of an eBook Luddite. I like having a tangible library. I like seeing and feeling books. I appreciate, in an odd sort of way, the aging of the paper as my collection grows old with me.
On the other hand, my house burned down during Hurricane Ike in 2008, and I lost my life’s collection of books, most of which are no longer in print. I’ve estimated the loss at about a thousand; mostly paperbacks, plus some hard covers and trade paperbacks. Some were signed by the author.
You would think that would make me a natural convert to eBooks, and yet…
I’ve also owned computers since 1985, starting with a Compaq Deskpro which was really loaded: 256k RAM, 5.25 floppy drive and a 10 megabyte hard drive! Zowie!
Given that quarter-century experience with computers, including hard drive crashes, data corruptions, OS incompatibilities, etc., I see the comparison this way: I’ve had so many data losses that I’ve lost count. On the other hand, I can tell you exactly how many times in my life my house has burned down. Exactly once.
Borders and Kobo assure eBook owners that, once they’ve transferred their Borders eBook library to Kobo, their library always exists “in the cloud”. I’m not convinced, and this does not make me feel better about my ‘ownership’ of my books.
eBooks have their places and their uses. I’m surprised that newspapers and weekly magazines haven’t converted themselves totally to eBook readers. Text books are certainly a logical application, since students rarely keep their books as future library references, and eBooks are lighter and more space-efficient, as well easier to read, search, etc.
But if you buy books to keep and collect, eBooks as currently developed and sold are too ephemeral for my taste.