Anti-e-book rant is a hoot—complete with the 'Curl up' canard

image E-book hater Nigel Farndale is at least nice enough to be amusing in his rant—both wittingly and unwittingly. Headline in the Telegraph is The next book after the e-book is the ex-book: E-books will kill books, just as the iPod has killed music… Let an anonymous editor step out and share the glory, if that’s appropriate!

Tactile Touch, Curling Up, the usual line on the piracy issue, etc.—you’ll meet all our old friends in Farndale’s actual article. Bunched together, his canards should be a hoot to the knowledgeable.

What’s next? E-books cause cancer and dandruff? At least that would be a chance for this prominent U.K. journalist to be more original.

Where Farndale is on the mark

Just the same, e-books are hardly flawless, and I’d certainly agree with Farndale that e-booking could be a much more social activity than it is now—and not just because of the limits of E Ink. Guess who’s to blame partly? Execs at major publishers, which haven’t given the IDPF sufficient encouragement and resources to develop a reliable standard for shared annotations.

The IDPF would do well to study annotations-related efforts at the Institute for the Future of the Book and companies such as BookGlutton. Check out this video, folks! You, too, Mr. Farndale, if you’re somehow tuning in.

The part where I laughed with Farndale: Where he said of a friend, "I once sent him a review copy of a novel I’d written and he sent me a letter by return of post thanking me for it and saying he was looking forward to reading it. Clever that, because then he didn’t actually have to read it. He could be about to start it in perpetuity."

Related: My above commentary is proudly snarkish (topic of a commentary over at the Solomon Scandals blog).

(Via Tweet from book critic Sarah Weinman, who doesn’t own an iPod or e-book-reader, but seems open minded. Also see DearAuthor’s Jane on the "fear of free" angle.)

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5 Comments on Anti-e-book rant is a hoot—complete with the 'Curl up' canard

  1. What the heck, I’ll say it again: it’s MUCH easier to read books in bed on my iPod than a traditional printed book.

  2. I can read just about anywhere with my Kindle, public or private, very comfortably. I guess the bath or the shower would be a bad place, but in all honesty, I’ve never wanted to read and wash at the same time anyway, so that point is kind of moot; and I could put the Kindle in a ziplock bag if really wanted to try such a thing.

  3. It always amazes me that some of these people get paid for what they write in Newspapers. In part his comments seem to suggest that he loves the medium more than what is contained within the medium. Lets look at a couple of his arguments:

    1. That we enjoy people seeing what we are reading. This certainly has to be the most shallow reason to select a paper book that I have ever seen. More importantly, his snide comment about not wanting people to see what you are reading should you be reading Dan Brown or Jackie Collins suggests an elitist attitude about reading. In other words, he is hoping you will see the book he is reading and decide that he is a great fellow because he is reading whatever book the high brow readers approve of.

    2. The book, as a medium has evolved over hundreds of years to be the perfect weight and shape to fit in your hand: Really? If that were the case, all books should weigh the same and they clearly don’t. Many books are inconveniently large, can be uncomfortable to hold open and of course its easy to loose your page if you drop the book or forget where you were. I am not saying that ebooks are a perfect replacement, but I will say that an ebook reader has made it easier for me to read at times and places where paper books were just impractical (reading on the exercise bike for example use to be a pain, now the 30 minutes on the bike is some of the best reading time I get many days).

    3. You associate screens with work: Uh? If that was the case, Hollywood should have failed years ago since its principle products are all delivered on screens.

    The one legitimate point is the fact that digital media has made piracy much easier. However, he forgets that while tons of work is pirated, there are many thousands, perhaps millions who are still willing to pay should they perceive the value of the work to be worth the cost.


  4. What Bill said.

    Whatever, Nigel. Meanwhile, the future rolls on.

  5. There’s no argument. Although ebooks make sense for a hurried New York business population, for anyone else it’s motivation to read when they otherwise wouldn’t be reading. Simply put, the ebook is a specialized device designed for a very large market: people who don’t read.
    Again, it makes a little sense for certain professionals browzing Dummy books on the subway, but for those of us who like literature: JUST BUY THE BOOK.
    This device is like a handisaw; fancy equipment for complete noobs to blow their budgets on.


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