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books &e-books

Amazon sold more e-books than hardcover books last quarter. Dan Flynn, in a recent blog post, suggests that this is even bigger than the replacement of vinyl with CD's.

It might be, but not for me. I still don't have an e-reader. There are many reasons, such as not wanting to give up the tactile experience of reading an actual book. But that's merely aesthetic. There are practical reasons. Sometimes I like to walk down to the local coffee shop and take a book with me. If I was instead carrying some consumer electronics, I might be a more tempting target to thieves.

And I am usually the last kid on my block to aquire the latest technology. That sounds odd for a computer science professor, I know. But as a computer science professor (or even just as a somewhat knowledgeable consumer), I know that the late adaptors get cheaper and more reliable products. That's why I didn't get a cell phone until 2006. (And only then because an unreliable car and the disappearance of pay phones made it a necessity.) And besides, at the age of 52 I have no chance of being  one of the cool kids anyway.

I know there are advantages. I'm sure the search feature is nice, and I sure could have used it when I read Foucault's Pendulum. It's been described as one of the few novels that need an index. With an e-reader, ALL novels would have indexes.

There is is the storage issue. I am running out of room for books, and an e-reader would certainly ameliorate that problem. But that's not an entirely good thing. Now when I buy a book, in addition to the price, I also have to consider how much room I have for it. Even though I sometimes dismiss  storage issues, it often puts a brake on my book purchasing.

There's another two-edged sword. Purchasing books would be more convenient. I would just have to log on to Amazon and instantly get a book. I wouldn't  have to hand my credit card or money to anyone, and I wouldn't even have to take physical delivery of the product. That's too much convenience. Anybody who knows me well can tell you that making it easier for me to buy books is like teaching Robert Downey Jr. how to grow an process his own coca plants. In either case, nobody is being done any favors.