6 May 2009

E-books revisited

Mark Vernon has some interesting points about e-books. I've previously posted in support of the medium, following the acquisition of a Sony Reader for Mrs Lanky, and following Mark's persuasive piece, I still think they have a place.

I think Mark's right to insist that there is something about the embodiment of a book in paper form which is different from the embodiment of an e-book. I don't think you can argue an e-book has no embodiment, but you could say that its embodiment is non-unique, given that the reader-unit looks the same and feels the same with any book (apart from the content of the screen).

My wife loves her Sony Reader, and for someone who reads books by the tonne, it makes sense for her to have one. However, I share some of Mark Vernon's opinions,and as I don't currently read many books, I'd extend the issue to itunes. I still prefer to buy a CD; partly for the confidence brought by the posession of an incorruptible (relatively) 'embodied' artefact. You have bought a CD rather than some data.

I realise there's an amount of inconsistency here. CDs look very similar to each other, and are only unique due to the data they contain, and maybe a bit of printing on the top. Maybe it's less about uniqueness and more about the particularity of each artefact.


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