There was a recent thread on Metafilter about owning physical books vs just having digital copies on a device. It appears that the new “I Don’t Own a TV” is “my entire library is digital”. As a dedicated bibliophile I find this a little disturbing.
As I have noted here before, I do quite a bit of reading on my iPad (using either the Kindle app or iBooks). My wife prefers all lighting in this house be soft and ambient. The iPad is the best way for me to read without hearing a rant about the harshness of over-head lighting. I must admit reading from a tablet it is frightfully convenient. But to go to an all-digital seems a little shortsighted.
For one thing, what if something happens to your device? Or sure, Amazon can retrieve everything you bought provided you use Kindle but still. Digital is not forever. If anything it is one of the most perishable of mediums. Computers crash, hard drives fail, tablets die, e-companies fold. Granted the chance of Amazon going bust is nil but still, it’s putting all of your eggs into a single basket. And if you have everything in a Nook, you should be frightened. Maybe I’m either too old or too much of a purist to understand slaving yourself to digital, or worse yet, the cloud. I love my iPad but I trust Cupertino with my stuff about as well as I trust my Republican governor to place the needs of the people before the oil companies.
As we have pointed out, we live in a very rural part of North Dakota. There is one library in the entire county and it tends to reflect the tastes of the county population. Lots of best-selling dreck: bodice-rippers, Dan Brown, right-wing military techno fantasies, Danielle Steele, etc. I gave up on it years ago. There are two really nice bookcases in the living room for really special hardbacks, another three in my office, two bookcases downstairs, and two closets stuffed with paperbacks that have yet to find a home. And that’s after purging a good part of our collection in a move five years ago. All e-books, lossless audio files (fuck MP3s), video files, photos are backed up on three external hard drives. One of these days I’m going to keep one in a safety deposit box. All this may sound paranoid but I’ve lost enough digital files in one way or another to be cautious.
Here at Ber Manor we are not digital Luddites. We stream more movies and TV than we watch our dusty DVDs. One of these days I’m going to get a DAC so I can finally feed all those HD audio files and concerts into my stereo system. But none of this digital convenience is going to change my love for opening a real book, watching a film on a big screen, or playing a vinyl record. You digital kids stay off my real lawn