A message from Sid Hall:
I loved e-books for a while. Now I hate 'em. Probably I'll love them again later on. The more I know, the more I love/hate 'em.
I've always loved print books, as long as I can remember, and I know I always will.
Everyone knows the obvious advantages to the e-book in terms of storage and availability and saving trees, but you can't smell an e-book, or at least you shouldn't. You can't hear the pages crackle. You can't rest your coffee cup on one, or stretch it over your eyes to keep the sun out. You can't drop it in the lake and dry it off in the sun or press leaves between the covers. You can't give it to your best friend after your done.
You can have different print books everyplace you go through life and in every room you inhabit and you don't have to plug any of them in. Print books sit on your shelves like colorful friends huddling together and they remind you they are there. They call out to you when you might want to ignore them.
But—dropping the romanticism now—the bottom line is content. It's what the words say and how they enter the heart and mind that counts. Why should it matter if we get this from an e-book or a print book? Well it turns out that this is where print books excel. The whole job of a print book designer is to make the content sing for the reader, and when the designer has done the job right, the reader has no idea why this book is singing. The e-book designer can only create a loose approximation of what a reader will see. Readers have most of the control and readers generally don't know beans about book design. So the person reading an e-book is getting content in a very haphazard way.
E-books are amazing things and have their own beauty. I know what's under the hood and it's a lot more complicated than you may think. Hidden in there are dozens of cryptically-named files. They are all zipped together into one neat file like you see on your Nook or Kindle. But they are little websites. The engineering is really impressive.
The engineering is impressive but the art is only beginning. Maybe someday it will arrive. I want to love these things, but the old love of my life, the print book, has her hooks in me still and I'm fine with that.