On the back of the announcement that Waterstone's and Sony are jointly entering the ebooks marketplace there has been quite a bit of coverage in the media, to the extent that I now regularly discuss ebooks with pretty much everybody. On this blog I have spoken before about the issue of both over hyping or hating ebooks but again, it seems the reaction warrants some kind of comment. Specifically the more spittle flecked, hate ridden reaction of (some of) ebook's detractors. The language, the sentiment, is almost bizzarely visceral in its pathological intensity.
Take these three in the Observer. Lynne Truss manages to be reasonably civil, but the language of Will Self and Amanda Ross is markedly less so: the operative words are "loathe" and "horrified". Peter Conrad, in an admittedly interesting and more thoughtful piece, accuses ebooks of wanting "to bring about the end of a culture". Similarly in the many conversations I have about ebooks I am always struck by the sheer force, to the point of rudeness, in people's adverse reactions to the mention of a book that is, gasp, not on paper.
For the record then it is worth re-iterating: calm down, books are not going to go away, ebooks are channel that will exist side by side with them, there is nothing to get so worked up about, no one is trying to kill books or end a culture, rather the reverse, to rejuvenate and contribute to that culture.
Strangely ebook's biggest haters are often those who will crow most loudly about their imminent and monumental failure. Why bother hating them so much then?
As a bibliophile I can quite understand people's passion for the printed, crafted artifact, but surely its time to get over the sheer level of knee jerk, violent invective ebooks attract. Surely?