28 February 2009

Manila Times column for 01 March 2009: "Of e-books and literary imaginations"

original post here.

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Of e-books and literary imaginations

In the age of portable and mobile everything, would you convert your library to be on-the-go as well? This is where e-books come in.

In the late 1990s, the first e-books I encountered contained short stories, hence they weren’t too bulky to read in your computer. The idea back then for e-books was something to be acquired online, downloaded in your personal computer, printed out and then read away from the computer. Some who didn’t have printers opted not to print—a cheaper option for most.

But I remember a friend saying she preferred curling up in bed with a good book, so she hated e-books. But with the advent of the computer-based mobile technologies, this is not a problem anymore. Many devices today have the capability of storing e-books. Even music players such as iPods with bigger screens also have the capacity to display e-books via the simple text format. Mobile phones and other personal mobile devices are already prepared for the technology using PDF files or other applications. There are even devices made specifically for e-books technology, like online retailer Amazon.com’s Kindle device I mentioned last week.

Thus, all of these gadgets and technological advances make us carry our reading habits even further, contributing to newer ways of reading, but still implies traditional ways of imagining and enjoying literary texts. Authors are also not limited to traditional publishing woes as they could self-publish their own material via this technology—that is, if it’s okay for them not to have print versions of their works. Some writers find this set-up just fine.

As a keen observer of technological advancements, I am greatly excited about this new literary development of the e-book. However, when it comes to reading, the purist—or perhaps romantic—in me couldn’t seem to let go of the feel, smell and look of a traditional book, one with paper for pages, handsome or impressive covers, and emits a distinct smell that I am somehow addicted to—the “library smell” or “new book smell” or “bookstore smell.” Hey bookworms, I know you know what I’m talking about. These are some reasons why some people still prefer to buy books, real books, from bookstores all over the world.

But perhaps, whatever works for readers—be it e-books or the printed book—what’s more important is that people read literature. And that, to me, is something I would not question, but would proudly applaud. Whatever it takes for people to read more, I am all for that.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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