Since the dawn of The Speculative Scotsman, e-books have gone from the margins to the mainstream.
I remember seeing video of a prototype of Sony's first e-book reader at CES years and years ago, and thinking this could change everything. I wanted one then and there... but when the time came that I could actually buy one, I held my horses.
I told myself was waiting for the next iteration. Then when the next iteration became available, I told myself... something else.
Eventually, however, be damned my doubts: I had my heart's desire. Not a Kindle, oh no! Ever the contrarian, I bought myself an Asus Transformer tablet, which - though it's beginning to look a little long in the tooth - I still use to this day. Primarily to read comics on, and e-books when needs must.
I'm just not a lover of electronic literature, by and large. I mean, I'll make do with an e-book - and these days, I often find myself with e-ARCs instead of physical proofs - but it simply isn't the same.
Before the tech savvy tell me what my problem is, I actually don't find the resolution of the text my tablet renders to be a problem. But I do mind the sluggishness of my micro-library. And I do wish Amazon would come the hell on and incorporate some of the software-side features of the Paperwhite line into the Kindle app.
But here I am having trouble articulating why I find e-reading such a sterile experience, when this whole post is supposed to showcase a quote that captures my feelings exactly. It's from The Explorer by James Smythe, who's been rereading Stephen King for The Guardian recently, and it's short, but sweet:
"I always said that the thing I was saddest about, when they had pretty much stopped printing paper books, was that I couldn't tell how long was left until the end. I could find out, but that feel, that sensation of always knowing was gone. I used to love the way that the cluster of pages grew thinner in my hand, how I could squeeze it and guess the time it would take until it ended. I loved endings, when they were done well: I loved knowing that it was finished, because that was how it was meant to be. An ending is a completion: it's a satisfaction all in itself." (p.251)Well said, James Smythe! I agree completely.
But who's with us, I wonder?
Ironically, the e-book of The Explorer is out on December 20th in both the UK and the US, but Harper Voyager aren't distributing the paperback till January 2013.
The far-flung future, in other words. :P
Never mind my trumpeting about time: I'll be reviewing The Explorer on tor.com shortly, and - spoiler alert - it's incredible. But resist the temptation, readers: wait for the physical edition!