Classic Cars, eReaders, The Written Word and an Orwellian Stupidity

While I wait for my Havana Classic Car series of photos to upload to my PhotoShelter account, I thought that I would blog about the state of electronic media versus analogue artifacts. CBC Radio just aired an episode of Ideas that debated the death of the written word and the rise of the eReader for the masses. I am not really a CBC aficionado, but I feel a little nostalgic about home so I tuned in to CBC Radio Charlottetown on my iPod. I have to admit that Ideas gave me a few.

The idea of digital books becoming the main source of literary media for the mainstream does not bother me. The idea that most people will merely have a Kobo or Kindle to hold their latest crime or smutty novels does not phase me one bit. The fact that the masses have embraced digital photography, cell phones and virtual friendships via Facebook…not a blink of an eye. Surely, this is the democratization of literature and knowledge for the proletariat, and we must rejoice in our canny fortunes of being in such an enlightened age. The truth: the general public is positioning themselves to be educated by corporations who control, modify and temper the content of literature to suit their future needs. Only a fool would believe in that, Chandler. Chapters cares about our ability to access the great works to make us more voracious readers. Amazon wants our communities to thrive and build virtual libraries to access.The general public would think so, but that is because they have never actually read Orwell’s 1984 or Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Sadly, the general public does not read literature per se. Yes, many read current fiction and more read the pulps for entertainment, but how many sit down to read a classic novel that has had a shelf life of a century even?

I am not a luddite. I have a Kobo. Actually, it has been wonderful to read the included 100 Classic Novels included free of charge while I am on the subway in the winter. I may not be able to carry The Idiot with me in a crowded streetcar, but it fit nicely in my parka pocket via the Kobo. Problem: my Kobo died in Morocco. Might have been humidity, might have been a minor bump in transit; it died and there was no way to revive my virtual library until I returned home, found out who to contact, waited for an envelope to mail to Kobo, and then waited for a free replacement. One month later and I am back with my library of classics. While it was quite decent of Kobo to replace the reader with no real questions asked [the 6 month warranty was still in effect], and they were nice to deal with, the whole process made me question the value of investing any money into digital texts. It is an interesting question to ponder as Fall encroaches on Canada, and candlelight becomes more comforting.

But I digress…the upload of my analogue film photos of antique cars on the dilapidated streets of Havana were scanned digitally on a scanner to refine on a computer to upload to a server in cyberspace is now complete, and the photos look beautiful.  Coincidentally, I also just ordered the copy of Fahrenheit 541 shown above from my favourite book publisher, Folio Society. I just love their beautiful editions of seminal texts; online forums run asunder with claims that they are a book scam, but in the fourteen years that I have done business they have never gone soggy from Moroccan rains.  Funny old world, ain’t it.

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