My Theory Has A Hole In It?

In the eternal span of history, I’ve always assumed books on paper weren’t destined to last forever.  How do I know this?  Because it just makes sense that Kirk had a digital clipboard instead of paper.  (Note that we all accept that a captain has to file reports.  Mastering warp drive and curing cancer is believable but a job without paperwork is inconceivable?)

He can have sex with aliens but society isn't advanced enough to dispense with paperwork. WTF?

Despite my assumption that paper books would someday go the route of Cuneiform I think the $139 kindle is not yet a book killer.  Why?  For a myriad dad of reasons but most notably that marketers suck the life out of everything they touch.  If they don’t bog the system with copyright DRM crap, they’ll construe your book as “rented” rather than “owned”, and of course they’ll roll like dogs in the ultimate marketing shitfest; format incompatibility.

Each digital book format will be oh so much cooler than the last.  Right up until you’ve bought the same book six times and decide you’d prefer to stare at the sun until you’re blind than do it again.

It has happened before.  Somewhere there is a person who has purchased the same rendition of Up And Away on 33 RPM LP, 8 track, cassette, CD, and now he has it on iTunes.  The day when he loses his iPod in a Dubai airport is the day he’ll start fondly dreaming of that big cabinet full of LPs he lugged around in college.  Then, ever so slowly, like the setting of the sun, the realization that he’s spent the better part of a car payment on just one song will seep into his bones and kill his soul.

All that money spent on hippies! You could have bought a lawn mower instead!

That is the day he’ll stop buying a goddamn thing.  (Note: I have never spent a single penny on anything performed by The Fifth Dimension but I used to think Marilyn McCoo was hot.)

Which brings me to the example I intended to use against the kindle.  Weeks ago I bought a cheap paperback on impulse.  I stuffed it in my motorcycle saddlebags and forgot about it.  This weekend I dredged it out and spent several pleasurable hours flipping pages on my beloved porch swing.  No batteries, no electronics, no bullshit.

It was published in 1870, originally written in French, and 141 years later I enjoyed the whole story for $6.  E-books have their work cut out for them!

I intended to post that my experience demonstrated why kindles were not yet ready to bury Gutenberg’s machine.  But then I found this link:

A damn fine book! (Even if displayed on an unholy electronic gadget.) (Liked to Amazon. I don't get any money from the sale but neither does anyone else?)

A price of zero?  Good grief!  Maybe I was too hasty?  Hmm…  I’m still not sure.

Today’s digital readers could be the sort of thing that looks gorgeous now but look goofy in hindsight.

What the hell was I thinking?

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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16 Responses to My Theory Has A Hole In It?

  1. Free eBooks with no DRM and in multiple formats (including all commonly used eBook formats) can be found at:
    1. (out of copyright books with everything from Xenophon’s Anabasis to authors of the early 20th century.

    2. Baen Books also makes many of its books available for free at, and at (because of those two places, most of the books I buy were published by them.

  2. Ruth says:

    Baen not only offers a large number of free ebooks, but their pricing on the rest of their ebooks is much better thought out than the average ebook pricing schemes AND Baen doesn’t use DRM. You bought it, its yours.

    I refuse to own a Kindle, Amazon is getting to big for its britches, I do have an iPad (hubby gave it to me for Christmas) and I do read a large number of ebooks on it. Interestingly enough I also own a large number of those ebooks in paper as well, so I suppose in some cases I’ve paid twice, but most of those paid twice cases are from Baen, who’s prices for ebooks make that much more cost effective. Personally I much prefer to READ a book on actual paper, but I MUCH prefer the carrying around of the ebook library.

  3. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    eBooks (or whatever they are called in the future) will only take over when losing the reader is as cheap as losing one book. As matters stand, I’ll happily take almost any book I own into the bath with me. If I drop it, I’m out $30 at most. Drop a Kindle into 14″ of hot water, and see what it gets you.

    I can see them eventually finding a way around the eyestrain problem, but the “tuck it in a back pocket, and if you go butt down in a puddle you’re only out eight bucks” hurdle is going to be rougher going.

  4. Tam says:

    Why am I not reading your blog every day?

    I nearly peed myself laughing reading this post.

  5. OldeForce says:

    We have the nook and an iPod [freebe from the bank for a $250 deposit to an account getting a better rate than most]. Libraries we use in CO and OH prefer the nook and books can be downloaded for free. Limited choice and some do take hours to download. Also, try “” – by author or title – all are free.
    Yeah, I still prefer books I can hold and mark my place with an old sales slip. OldeForce

  6. Brian Dunbar says:

    What the hell was I thinking?

    Everyone looked like that in the 80s. It’s a wonder any of us reproduced. Ms. McCoo got better, I think, in the 90s.

    Now .. what the hell am _I_ thinking? She’s my mother’s age.

  7. Pingback: » A hanging in the twilight canopy

  8. phlegmfatale says:

    I am exceedingly fond of lingering in a bubblebath with a book and a beer. Or wine. Or not. On rare, and crest-felling occasions, I have dropped a book in the tub, alas. However, dropping that one book, I didn’t lose my whole damned library, and in every case, I snatched it up quickly enough that there was minor water damage around the edges. On second thought, the drink may have a bit to do with those motor-skills fails, but, again, I didn’t lose my whole library in one fell *ploop*. I read books on a Kindle occasionally, but the book is a more cozy thing to curl up with in bed, or on the porch, or in a hammock. Or the bathtub.

  9. Grey Mobius says:

    I’ve though of a more sinister reason to keep the dead tree versions of books especially of history books or founding documents – unannounced secret revisions. I might be paranoid since I just finished reading “1984” again.

    • Excellent! I agree wholeheartedly. Paranoid or not there’s no reason to think people will avoid “revising” stuff they don’t like.

      • Grey Mobius says:

        Two things that buoy up what I’m thinking is how the Lame Stream MediaTM is now favorably comparing comparing the “hated” President Ronald Reagan to our vastly undocumented president O’Bupkis and how much effort we expend in the National Archives preserving the original documents…imagine if they fall out existence and only electronic copies exist….they’d be subject to revision at the whim of whomever is in power. Remember how the Constitution is a “Living Document” as told by the Progressives.

    • Actually 1984 has already been retroactively deleted from Kindles by Big Brother….er…Amazon. No shit. It happened.

  10. Joel says:

    Hey. Hate on ebook readers all you want, and I’m right there with you. But Marilyn McCoo was hot.

    Heh – Recently heard some Fifth Dimension song on the radio. I said something like, “The Fifth Dimension was the whitest black singing group in the history of music.” The guy next to me said, “Those guys are black?” I chortled.

  11. I ran out of shelf space for my books a year ago. Six months ago I decided to re-organize my library. I would sell off duplicates to the local used book store (so far I have two large grocery bags full of Duplicates … I wold have sworn that I didn’t have more than two or three) and box up the “favorite author” collections for storage.

    “Man proposes; God disposes.”

    I’m currently re-reading every book (over 1,000) that I own. Turns out, I saved them because I really LIKE them. Projected project completion date: sometime in 2015. Maybe.

    I haven’t bought a new book in six months. See how much money I have saved?

  12. Pingback: Book Club For Men: Syllabus | The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog

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