Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Are ebooks easier to read than print books?

I missed this Guardian op-ed response to Jonathan Franzen’s assertion that ebooks are making us dumber and less attentive to reading, but I am glad I found it now. Check out Henry Porter’s piece for a polite, thoughtful, and factually-supported refutation of Franzen’s claims against ebooks. Of particular interest: “…the information passing through our minds has risen threefold in the past 30 years and increases by about 6% every year,” which is to say that people are consuming more and more information, rather than less and less.

I would wish to add to this as well the idea that ebooks also make reading more potable and accessible, which could cause an increase in reading. We read tens of thousands of emails every year because it is so quick and easy to use email as a primary source of communication; we send them because we can. Why not expect reading to increase if a book becomes easier and faster (and someday cheaper) to acquire, and to carry around? Neil Gaiman, eminent author and blogger, last year wrote about his newfound ease of completing The Count of Monte Cristo, now that he could carry such a lengthy tome on his lightweight ereader or smart phone, which he could pick up and read at any spare moment.

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