The Electronic Book- ebooks and books can coexist in the 20th Century

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Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print – Chapter 5
The Electronic Book- EBooks and Books can coexist in the 20st Century.

EBook, known as the electronic book is a text with images that is digitally produced. Ebook contains down loadable literature that is readable. I was very curious when I first heard of ebooks. Now that I have read Bolter’s, “Writing Space,” my curiosity has been peaked even more. I decided to purchase an ebook and take a look for myself. In chapter 5 of Bolter’s, “Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print,” he states, “One class of information appliances is positioned explicitly to replace the paged book: an example is the Rocket ebook.”Chapters have their version of the ebook, known as the Kobo Reader. Barnes and Noble call their version the Kindle and then there is the ipad. It is interesting to observe the market and the wide variety of electronic devices available to the consumer. While technology is neither good nor evil, as recently stated on a CBCZONE DOC named, “Are We Digital Dummies,” I see the benefit of having and using the ebook as a complimentary addition to existing books. Each plays a role that satisfies the consumer’s needs. In that way, they can coexist together in the 21st century.
The book is a printed form of words, where as the ebook is a digital method of representation. According to Bolter, the electronic media of the 20th century, including film, radio, television, and now digital media rival the printed book. Bolter (Pp.3).In their immediate representation, ebooks are a remediation to books. “As with any remediation, however, the ebook must promise something more than the form that it remediates: It must offer what can be construed as a more immediate, complete, or authentic experience for the reader.”Bolter. (Pp.80). One of the advantages of ebooks is that they are lightweight and easy to carry. Holidays and trips of any kind support having an ebook due to its convenience to transport. The ebook makes available the huge amount of books in the palm of one’s hand. Another advantage is that the ebook turns any text into a hypertext, in which the reader can search for other related words or phrases in the text. “The whole text becomes immediately available to the reader in a way a printed book is not.”Bolter (Pp.81). Ebook websites can provide translations into many different languages and easy accessibility. Many ebooks may be readable in low light and total darkness. Even though the device‘s initial cost is more than a book, the downloads are cheaper and all fiction before 1900 is a public domain. Libraries are lending more recently published books in electronic form than ever before. Ebooks do not consume paper and ink while books need three times more raw materials and 78 times more water to produce.
On the flip side, the ebook has some disadvantages that need to be considered. Not all books are available electronically. The shelf life is limited as they degrade after time and they are more susceptible to damage when dropped. Big books and picture books for children are not as convenient to share. Electronic devices being more appealing, also suffer from a higher percentage of thief. One consideration many people are unaware of is that for the first time in history reading habits can be tracked and monitored. Privacy is becoming more and more eroded. Also, technologies are in constant change with newer models being marketed every few years. The lack of a single consistent marketable product longer than three years, affects the life of each ebook version.
Although there are disadvantages of the ebook, in July 2010 Amazon reported that they outnumbered hardcover books for the first time in sales. Over all, The American Publishing Association reports that ebook represent 8.5% of sales as of July 2010.
Encyclopedias and libraries play an important part in the framework of books and electronic books. As defined by Bolter, “A library amasses books, while an encyclopedia condenses them. Both seek to organize and control text in order to make them available to the reader.” Bolter. (Pp.81-82) The encyclopedia began as an attempt to put a lot of information into print under the idea of one large book. According to Bolter, Medieval writers, Greeks and Romans shared the commonality of the big book of knowledge. During the age of print, the desire to produce the encyclopedia became less important, as authors began to report on information, rather than just to synthesize it. The modern 20th Century encyclopedia is more of a business than a philosophical or scholarly endeavour.
“The electronic encyclopedia is an organizational flexibility of hypertext,” says Bolter. (Pp.90) Readers of a digital device have a convenient way to access other information through hypertext. Video and other visuals add meaning to words very effectively through the ebook. Structures within the ebook are less rigid as those within the structures of the book. “Early writers of the encyclopedia thought that the goal of the great book was to present hierarchies of knowledge. The table of contents is both hierarchical and linear: it shows subordination and superordination, and it also shows the reader the order in which he or she will encounter these ideas in reading first page to last.” Bolter (Pp. 98) The printed form is more rigid than the electronic version. In comparison, the electronic book allows the reader more fluidity which Bolter says reflect our changing world of expanding and developing relationships.
National libraries that exude tradition and omniscience represent a physical power and presence in our society. Many reputable libraries worldwide like, The Nationale de France combine both texts and digital images. ( October 17, 1999). As Bolter writes, “They are seeking to show that digital technologies do not make traditional libraries obsolete, but rather that these organizations with their long traditions of cataloging and control can now effectively colonize cyberspace.” Bolter. (Pp.95). Here Bolter is arguing that,”working libraries continue to be hybrids: combinations of machine-readable materials, computer services, and familiar printed books and journals.” Bolter. (Pp.96). As Bolter reminds us, remediation of one form to another may never be complete.
After all the comparisons are made, it really comes down to individual choice. I am a lover of books and those that I most enjoy have a special place on my shelf. The physical look and feel of my prized treasure cannot be replaced by the ebook. Many books that I have and intend to read can be better read on an ebook. There is something to be said about the convenience of the ebook and the small space it occupies. The most important thing I believe is that they are both text and contribute to literacy. Responding to Bolter’s statement that the electronic device is positioned to replace books, I successfully use both in very individualized ways. Both books can and do coexist, at least for now.
Bolter, Jay David. (2001) Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah (N.J.): Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Print.
Kress, G. (2005). “Gains and Losses: New Forms of Text, Knowledge, and Learning.” Computers and Composition: 22, pp. 5-22.

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1 Response to The Electronic Book- ebooks and books can coexist in the 20th Century

  1. Cathy Jung says:

    Hi Leslie,

    I wrote my commentary 2 on eBooks and enjoyed reading your paper and seeing how you addressed the topic. I was struck most by the following two statements you made: “After all the comparisons are made, it really comes down to individual choice.” and “The most important thing I believe is that they are both text and contribute to literacy.” I couldn’t agree more with you and certainly hope that people continues to read to promote literacy no matter what the format the book comes in.


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