On the Huffington Post, writer Steve Leveen (co-founder and CEO of Levenger, a company that sells “Tools for Serious Readers”) has written a column about the ways that e-books can improve the reading experience. Of course, it’s not exactly news here that e-books can represent an improvement—some of us have known that for ten years now. But Leveen looks at e-books in the light of a book on reading he wrote five years ago, called The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life. (Which, ironically, apparently isn’t itself available as an e-book yet.)
The specific behaviors that Leveen recommended in his book and that e-books make easier include giving up on e-books (apparently some people have a psychological block to starting more books when there are some they still haven’t finished yet), having more and better books available when you want to read, making notes in your books, sharing books with others, re-reading books shortly after finishing them, having your whole library easily accessible to you. being able to look up dictionary or encyclopedia references without having to go find another book, and getting in the flow of reading without the distraction of page-turning.
Some might quibble with some of these benefits—for myself, I’m a little disappointed he didn’t mention the impediment to sharing that DRM and copyright laws represent. (In fact, his example of “sharing” involved him handing his iPad to another person, which can be done just as easily with a printed book.) But it’s nice to see more articles about individual reactions to e-books that are more nuanced than just “I like ‘em!” or “I hate ‘em!”
But Leveen doesn’t think that printed books are going to be killed off, either. Even if they’re not going to be the workhorses of literature dissemination they once were, they still have a solid future ahead as objects d’art.
Physical books brilliantly designed, expertly printed, bound with creamy paper and touch-me covers, books that say "keep me and treasure me" — those will be as treasured as ever they were. Perhaps even more so.
He compares them to candles, which we now use for decoration and mood but don’t have to light our homes with (except in the event of a power outage, of course).