Ebooks


I’ll be very brief. I just want this on the record.

When ebooks first appeared, around the time that my first book was published, I was a full-blown, trembling convert. I like technology. I don’t like the moralising and sentimentality that get attached to paper codices. The advantages of screens were obvious, as was the fact that you could enjoy a book just as much on one. I wrote articles saying so. I even presented a package for a shortlived TV books show, announcing that the paper book was dying and throwing one into the sea. (Which did feel wrong, I remember.)

Now I’d like to put my prophesy on pause. As I write this the ebook market seems to be flattening, perhaps contracting, but that isn’t the reason. Having had time to read some really good books electronically I’ve come to realise that, for me, owning access to a book is not enough. Freedom Evolves, Gilead and The Trial, for instance, which I recommend elsewhere, I’ve felt the strong need to buy in printed versions, just to have them on my shelves. I’m no bibliophile, but clearly something about keeping the object goes deep in me, as it does in many people, whether it’s sentimental or not.

Future readers may feel differently. Maybe I’ll feel differently one day. But for now I think we’re stuck with a standoff. Thankfully neither ebooks nor paper ones are about to die.