Why eBooks (and Readers) Aren’t a Bad Thing

I just read a lament from Gris Grimly concerning the loss of his favorite things, “books” by way of example. His concerns were over electronic media and the gatekeepers who could use it to keep from us only what they wish for the citizenry to see. A fine point, but not the only point of view.

While I understand the text of this rant in principle, it needs to be framed in context. When the spoken word of storytellers was written down and people started learning to read, there were many who likely thought “Those accursed books! If people can read for themselves, why would they listen to me? And the story… it never changes! It cannot be embellished in print! There’s no emotion or flare on a piece of paper! The very idea is inhuman!” Of course, those storytellers have found other mediums because of change.

The Kindle (mention specifically) is no exception; while the makers and supporters CAN limit our experience, people who had no chance of ever being known due to the gatekeepers (editors, publishing houses, censors) can now be read in the way MP3s allowed unsigned bands to be heard (and in both cases, possibly successful). If Kindle won’t allow people to get what they want in the way they want it, people will move on to something else that can (iPads can load PDFs into iBooks as can many other readers such as the Nook). None of us want anything we love to change from the way we remember loving it (people included), but, unfortunately, everything does. You can ignore it or embrace it, but you can’t stop it. Just trust that people will do what they must.