[Marxism] advantages of ebooks | Piety on Kierkegaard

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 20 18:38:08 MDT 2014

This is an article by a philosophy professor that makes the same points 
she made in a piece in the latest Counterpunch magazine titled "The 
Gatekeepers of Publishing". I don't think that this will put MR, HM or 
Verso out of business but you better fucking believe that I'd like to 
see Random House disappear.


I know there are still a few people out there who are still resisting 
the transition to ebooks, so I thought I would take the opportunity once 
again to try to convince them that ebooks are fantastic! I have lots of 
beautiful old volumes of late 18th and early 19th-century philosophy and 
theology that I collected in Denmark and I doubt there are many people 
who appreciate a beautiful book more than I do. I have to tell you, 
though, that I am absolutely crazy about ebooks. I was excited about the 
idea of them when I first heard about them for the simple reason that 
they are searchable. Once I got a Kindle, however, I discovered that 
there are lots more wonderful things about ebooks:

1. They take no space. This is very important for me because even with 
two residences and an office at school, I have no more space for books.

2. You can carry thousands of books with you in your pocket everywhere 
you go so that never again will you be stuck anywhere without something 
to read. In fact, if you have a smart phone, you can read your books on 
your phone in the unfortunate event that you have failed to bring your 
ebook reader along with you. I know that sounds kind of crazy. I never 
thought I would want to read a book on my phone. It’s surprisingly 
pleasant though. I think the fact that the phone has backlighting makes 
it easier to read the small characters so that they don’t actually seem 
all that small.

3, You can secure a new book instantly, INSTANTLY! Once I was watching a 
program on mysticism and the narrator referred to a scholar of 
mysticism, Evelyn Underhill, who sounded very interesting. I was able to 
download a copy of one of her books before the program I was watching 
had even finished! This, to me, is just a huge advantage to ebooks. It 
has been enormously stimulating to my thought processes that I can get 
books immediately (not to mention that I can search them).

4. It is easy to move back and forth between notes and text. You just 
click on the note number and you are taken to the note. Click on the 
back button and you are back to the point in the text where the note 
appears. This isn’t easier than checking footnotes, of course, but it is 
much easier than checking endnotes. I hate endnotes, but everyone seems 
to be doing them now instead of footnotes.

5. I can cut and paste text to my lecture notes for class or for 
articles I’m working on–and the reference is inserted automatically!

6. You can download free samples of books you are not sure you want to 
buy and these samples are pretty substantial chunks of text, usually at 
least a whole chapter.

7. Ebooks are cheaper than regular books, so if you buy as many books as 
I do, you save A LOT of money buying ebooks.

8. Not only are ebooks cheaper than conventional books, lots and lots of 
them are actually free! That’s right, lots of books that have gone into 
the public domain (including lots of older translations of Plato and 
other philosophers) are available free of charge in the Kindle bookstore 
(I’m sure Barnes and Noble has something similar for their Nook).

9. Ebooks are easier to read in bed because they are lighter than most 
regular books and you don’t have to manage the two halves. I used to get 
very uncomfortable because I sleep on my side so, if I were reading a 
really thick book either my arm would get tired holding up the thick 
side or I would have to turn over on my other side every time I finished 
reading a page.

Ebooks are the wave of the future. Not only are they better in all the 
ways listed above than conventional books for readers, they make it much 
easier for people to get into print (meaning e-ink print, of course). 
The ebook revolution is going to be as big a thing, I think, as was the 
invention of the printing press. There were books before the printing 
press, but books (not to mention democracy) really took off after the 
invention of the printing press. I think ebooks are going to have just 
as revolutionary an effect on humanity as did the printing press.

Okay, there are some disadvantages with them. Unless you have an iPad, 
or other tablet computer, you won’t get the full experience of color 
illustrations. That isn’t such a huge problem for philosophers and 
theologians, though, because most of our books don’t have big color 
illustrations. Of course, you need to charge an e-reader whereas you 
don’t need to charge a book. E-readers actually hold a charge for a long 
time, however. My Kindle Paperwhite holds a charge for weeks even though 
it is backlighted. Finally, t is difficult to “page through” an e-reader 
(you are better off doing a search on a key word).

The advantages of e-books clearly FAR outweigh their disadvantages. 
Sorry to go on like this but I am so crazy about ebooks. I do this to 
everyone who tells me he doesn’t like e-books, that to me is like saying 
you don’t like to read. If you like to read, you will LOVE e-books. Mark 
my words!

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