|Classics: E-books or Books|
What is an e-book anyway? And how does it relate to Classic Literature? Well it may relate in more ways than you think.
An e-book is a text (whether it be a book, magazine, journal, manual, poem, cookbook, travel guide, etc.), which is electronic. An e-book is supposed to be formatted for clear reading and viewing, though some of these features may depend on the e-publisher who creates and distributes the e-book. With the wonder of technology, an e-book can also be accompanied by multimedia (sound, pictures, animation, etc.)
The idea behind e-books is that you can read a book in a faster, more economical, even more earth-friendly way. You could, for instance, locate Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein "from one of the many e-book stores. Some e-books are free, but if this particular one wasn't, you'd have to purchase your copy. You'd then have three options: (1) upload the book into a reader (Palm Pilot, Rocket eBook, Microsoft Reader, etc.); (2) print the book out; or (3) read at the computer.
E-book technology has been around for some years (technically since 1986, when Franklin Electronic Publishers embedded an electronic dictionary in a handheld device). Science fiction has predicted such devices for longer than that... In the 1979" Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy," by Douglas Adams, Ford Prefect carries his electronic book called "The Hitchhiker's Guide". We've also seen other forms of electronic books in other science fiction. But, did we really expect this reality?
E-books are said to be the wave of the future, but I don't think that e-books will make a real difference any time soon. Every once in a while, I'll see a man or woman reading their Palm Pilot as they wait for the bus or a table in a restaurant, but the phenomena doesn't yet appear to be widespread. I don't hear people saying, "Hey, I just read my "Tom Jones" e-book this weekend."
Besides, the main complaint about e-books coming from literature lovers seems to be that an handheld electronic device that contains the text just doesn't feel the same as a "real" book. The e-book doesn't have the same look. You can't tell anything really about the e-book from that cover. You can curl up with an e-book, but is that really the "same"?
And, often, a worn paperback or hard back book is like an old friend, one that you can go pick up every so often just to remember the first or the second time you read it, to remember a class or a teacher, or just to flip through for that passage you've all but forgotten.
It's wonderful that e-books can provide new ways of learning for disabled students. It's wonderful that e-books can provide access to learning for people in outlying areas. It's also wonderful that writers can get their works published more easily. But I can't give up my grip on my well-loved classics just yet.