Thursday, 1 October 2009

Why the book will not go quietly into the night? (a.k.a. 5 Common Book Uses That An E-reader Simply Can’t Replace) (Part 1)

Wait! This is not your typical post addressing the e-reader versus book arguments exhausted by book bloggers everywhere. This is a serious expose on the hidden applications of books that manufacturers of e-readers don’t want you to know. It proves that an e-reader is just an e-reader. Yes, you can conveniently read stories on it, but what else of practical import is an e-reader good for? Can you use it to sound-proof your recording studio? Does it prove helpful when trying to reach a higher shelf? Is it likely to serve you well in an all-out throwing argument with your spouse? The answer is a resounding NO!! Listed below are five uses of the tome that affirm the book will not go quietly into the night.
1. Assault Weapon: Because of its’ versatility and relative indestructibility the book wins hands down over the e-reader as a throwing and maiming implement. Unlike the e-reader, the book comes in various sizes and materials. A small paperback is ideal for long-range assaults where stunning the enemy, rather than injuring them, is the goal. Large hard covers are more suited for short-range offensives where acute pain is the object. Now, e-readers are good missiles, fitting easily into the palm and inflicting sharp pain, but they are normally destroyed on impact. The book, on the other hand, can still be read after hitting its’ target. Terrain is another important factor in warfare and once again the book is superior. Small paperbacks are great for internal battles, causing minimal damage to furniture and civilians. The collateral damage caused by e-readers during internal battles outweighs its significance as a weapon. Sheer weight of numbers also makes the book a winner. In the grand scheme of war, the book is an army of hundreds or thousands, depending on the size of your library, whilst the e-reader is a lone soldier and hardly a nuclear bomb.
2. Drink Coaster: In terms of quality drink coasters, you can’t go past the humble book. The variation in size is an obvious advantage over the e-reader, but the books’ ability to carry off a coffee stain is the deciding factor. For starters, a coffee stain on an e-reader squeals neglect. But somehow, on a book, it adds personality and paradoxically suggests that the book has been loved, adored and discussed over tea and conversation. On a pure mechanical note, the book has been designed to absorb small amounts of liquid and can still be read under water distress. However, the e-reader’s capacity to take on aqueous solutions is limited and will normally result in total dysfunction.
3. Protest Tool: Book burning has a long and dark history as a tool for revolution, propaganda, censorship and culture control. I can’t deny that the e-reader is a flammable object, but as a symbolic spectacle it certainly doesn’t measure up to the book. A good book burning pleasures all the senses. We feel the heat on our skin, we breathe in the earthy smell of paper aflame, we see the orange fingers caressing the night sky, we hear the long, low sizzle, and we taste the sacrifice. The e-reader disappoints on all these fronts. Let’s face it, the e-reader doesn’t burn, it melts – and there’s a big difference between the two. Burning is passionate, courageous, warrior-like. Melting is weak, cowardly, vermin-like. What message would you prefer to send to the masses? Can you really imagine Joseph Goebbels heralding a Nazi e-reader melting. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue. From a promotional perspective, a book burning is a marketeer’s dream, complete with alliteration. A book burning is all pomp and ceremony with entire libraries wiped out one book at a time creating a literary inferno. Throwing an e-reader here and there into a fire is more like a fizzle.
4. Chew Toy: I understand that the primary reason for buying kids books is for the educational enrichment of children. However, what parent could claim their child has never used a book for the secondary purpose of helping them through the curse of the terrible twos – teething. I could be wrong, but wasn’t this why board books were invented? Kids the world over enjoy books as much for their ability to transport them into an imaginary world, as they do for their chew toy status. And, as the owner of a second-hand bookshop, I can testify to the distinct lack of kids books that come through my store without the tell-tale teeth marks. One could argue that an e-reader would be just as effective for a child as a book, after all mobile phones are certainly a hit. But the e-reader can’t match the pliability of the book, nor can it compete in terms of spittle absorption. Variety is also a factor. Who wants to chew the same old e-reader every time? Books allow the child unlimited textures – thick, thin, chewy, laminated, plastic, furry. Speaking of furry, let’s not forget the loveable household puppy fresh from the pet shop and dying for something to chew on and rip apart. Throw Lassie a book and she’ll be satisfied for hours. Throw Lassie an e-reader and she’ll have a sore head.
5. Weight/Fitness Trainer: Do I have to elaborate? Advocates of the e-reader cite the size and weight of the book as its’ major disadvantage, but fitness experts across the globe disagree. Sure, the book can be a bit weighty but think of the effect on your biceps and triceps. A small paperback in each hand whilst power walking is a toning miracle for the average woman. Readers who require a bit more bulk can work their way from small paperbacks, to hard covers, to medical textbooks and finally a lexicon. You can thank me for your cupboard arms later, because there is more. Books can be used instead of basic fitness equipment. Use a dictionary instead of a medicine ball, jump over a few piled-high Bryce Courtney epics instead of a hurdle, save money and glue a couple of hundred penny dreadful's together to make an aerobics step, balance a book on your head to correct your posture.