Saturday, 24 September 2016

Let's Try Something Old by Lev Butts

The fight over the supremacy of ebooks or "real" books roars on. Everywhere I look (on my Facebook feed), people are arguing back forth with the same venom and aggression as mildly inconvenienced English professors in a faculty meeting discussing the proper placement of desks and lecterns.

In a straight damned line, Barry! I'm tired of your hippie circle crap! 
It's getting pretty nasty out there for real. Clearly, people have not caught on that I settled this question years ago.

Spoiler Alert: They're both equally good but for different reasons.
Despite that, recently I found yet another tiresome list of why "real" books are superior. I thought about countering each of the reasons with an equally good reason for ebooks, but that would pretty much involve copying and pasting the blog I've already hyperlinked. Instead, I want to make the case for a third format by countering most of the points listed in the article.

5 Reasons Stone Tablets Are Better than Books

1. Stone Tablets Are Durable 

Lets face it: Neither ebooks nor traditional books have the staying power of a good stone tablet. Ebook batteries die eventually, necessitating replacement of the entire device since most ereaders do not have replaceable batteries. Many ebooks require replacement even before the battery life expires: they are not water resistant worth a damn, and their screens can break sometimes if you just stare at them too long.

I knew I took too long reading Chapter Eight of Fifty Shades.
Books either moulder in damp or dry up into brittle tissue in the dry air. Their pages tear if you're not careful or if you just put them in your satchel or if you turn them too quickly. Spines break if you read the book too much.

Take a moment to appreciate the irony.
Not so with stone tablets. Stone lasts centuries. It requires no batteries. It requires no ideal climate (I mean sure it does, but it's only a problem for your million-greatgrandchildren, and we'll have long destroyed ourselves before then).

2. Stone Tablets Are Multifunctional

Ebook readers are ebook readers. Yes you can do other things with them: Check your email, read comics, look at Facebook, maybe even read this blog, but it's all essentially the same thing. You're still holding and reading them.

Books are even less versatile. You just read the one thing that's printed on them and that's it. And yes, I know there's this whole "Let's decorate our living spaces with pages from books" fad going on, But you're still not using books: you're destroying books to use the bits for something else.

And let's, face it: the only folks that really go out for this sort of thing are hipsters doing it ironically, and don't we have enough irony in the world without creating more of it?

And besides, what the hell even is that thing anyway?
Stone tablets are way more versatile: In addition to books, stone tablets can double as doorstops, paving stones, wall hangings, Fred Flintstone's wheels, stairs, benches, desks, bookends. Even weapons!

After you have beaten the blasphemers and infidels to bloody pulps,
you can sit down with a nice cup of tea and read the Good Lord's Rule Book.
3. A Shelf of Stone Tablets Is WAY More Impressive Than a Shelf of Books

I don't even have to explain. You know in your heart of hearts, that this is awesome.

Seriously, which looks more impressive:

This:


Or this:


4. No One Is Damn Sure Going to Steal a Stone Tablet

The author of the linked article above, implies that no one cares enough about books to steal them because they are not as expensive as ereaders. Well, this is patently false. I am no angel. I have done my fair share of unethical things. I have stolen things, and the most common thing for me to steal has always been books. The first thing I ever stole was a Star Wars novel, The Splinter of the Mind's Eye. I have stolen from libraries, bookstores, even Goodwill stores. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

No one, though, is going to steal a stone tablet. Not even if they wanted to. Assuming they can lift it, they probably are not going to be able to slip it nonchalantly in their pocket as they leave.

What? I had these when I came in.
5. We Need to Support Stonemasons

The final reason the article gives for books being better than ebooks is that we need to support bookstores. I could point out that this is not really a point of superiority of traditional books as much as it is a separate reason to buy them. Booksellers don't make books inherently better. Twilight, for example, is just as horrid a book regardless of where I buy it or how I read it.

However, I'd like to make the point that if booksellers are a breed on life support, stonemasons are actively circling the drain. Imagine the boon to this ancient industry we could provide if we simply decided to bring back the stone tablet. This would serve double duty as the same booksellers could make money by simply switching their wares from paper to rock.  It would also cut down on inventory loss. Win-Win-Win.

And you can use your purchase in the coffee shop
as a coaster or table depending on the size.
Ebooks are too expensive and fragile. Traditional books are also too fragile and easily stolen. Clearly, then, we need to look to the past to preserve our future. Stone tablets are the only sustainable way to go.

I have already reserved my new copy of Star Wars.

14 comments:

Jan Needle said...

you can also throw a stone tablet at an unfriendly critic. or force him or her to swallow it.

Bill Kirton said...

Thanks, Lev, for some much-needed wisdom (and the laughs, of course).

Dennis Hamley said...

Brilliantly and logically argued, Lev. Now I know what to do with the broken paving stones I can see outside. It will save on printer ink too.

Susan Price said...

Lev, great post - and good on Jan for clinching the reasons why we really need to get back to tablets of stone, not plastic.

And whoever came up with: No one steals paper books because they're not expensive? What daft reasoning. There might be one or two rare, antiquarian, lushly illustrated books that are stolen for their value, but most book-lovers have slyed off with a paper book that was not theirs because they LOVED it and could not bear to be without it. This is why teachers and children's librarians are often pleased to have their stock stolen.

Ann Turnbull said...

Brilliant post - and completely logical!

Reb MacRath said...

Beautiful, Lev. I half-felt I was stoned when I read it, the logic whizzed and circled so.

Leverett Butts said...

The post certainly gathers no moss.

Enid Richemont said...

LOVED this post, and totally agree. I mean, what was good enough for the Lord God should be good enough for us, and if there are still any unbelievers out there, we're coming to get you. My only caveat - can you read stone tablets on the loo?

Katherine Roberts said...

Ha, good post! I certainly can't see any of our current book formats enduring nearly as long as cuneiform, Prince Belshazzar would hardly have batted an eyelid at words magically appearing on a screen, and I doubt the Ten Commandments would have had quite as much impact as an ebook...

Sad to think future generations will judge our society not by our words, but by all the plastic junk we leave behind in landfill - although I know a poet whose words are immortalised in stone in a pavement in Bath, so maybe there is hope for us yet.

Leverett Butts said...

Not only can you, but a good stonemason can turn your stone tablet novels into a loo.

Enid Richemont said...

Sorry Lev, but can't quite see how. If they make a sitting/shitting hole in the stone, aren't quite a number of words going to be lost? Need the design details please (or might this be a new form of editing?)

Leverett Butts said...

I call it The Editor's Loo.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Love this! Thanks. But you forgot to mention the wonderful smell of old stone. eBooks smell of nothing, new paper books smell of - er, that would be cellulose. But a nice mossy stone tablet or two - nothing quite like it!

Geoff Palmer said...

One you missed, Lev:

6: Dominate your publisher's slush pile

It might cost a little more to courier, but if you submit your next novel on a stone tablet, you'll squash out the opposition and dominate the slush pile. Plus, it's a sure way to get noticed (at least til everyone starts doing it), so get in now!