The book will never die or disappear.
But I've found a really great alternative.
For the past few months, I've been very happily reading books on my iPod Touch.
I love my iPod Touch. It has all my music and lots of my photos, and solitaire games. And Jamie Oliver's singularly excellent app of 20-minute recipes with videos, shopping lists, step-by-step photographs and the works.
But it is the connectedness the Touch offers that thrills me. We are never apart. In the mornings, with tea and toast in bed first thing, I pick it up and read my emails, and then bloglines to see what you've all been up to.
And now it delivers me great reading.
Both reading apps I discovered on the NY Times — there's an excellent app for that as well, which delivers links to stories in every section of the paper: news, politics, arts, movies, books, fashion & style and so on.
Don't you love that "updated moments ago" at the top of the screen (click on the pic for a bigger image). Gets me every time.
But I digress.
The NY Times led me to e-books and mentioned the wonderful app, Eucalyptus, which you can download to your iPod for about $12 and then use to download free books from Project Gutenberg.
PG is a brilliant and admirable initiative whose basic aim is to make all books in the public domain — those that are out of copyright — available to everyone through the internet. Free.
There are over 30,000 of them.
So I was able to download Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel, The Shuttle, which I'd been unable to find in bookstores here and in the US. And now I'm reading The Lost Prince.
I was a bit sceptical about my ability to read on the iPod screen, though the NY Times article reckoned the Eucalyptus screen was easy to read — far easier than Amazon's much-vaunted Kindle, which is available in Australia now.
I agree. With Eucalyptus you can pick the font size that's easy for you, and it's even easy to read in the dark.
You just swipe the screen to turn a page, and the page you were on flips over just like a real book.
When you turn the iPod off, Eucalyptus saves your page and opens there when you return.
Though you need wi-fi to connect and download, after that you can read anywhere.
I've read three books this way — it's brilliant. I heartily recommend it.
More recently, I read this NYT article, Serving Literature by the Tweet, about a young team in Brooklyn who have just launched Electric Literature, a magazine of writing that will be delivered exclusively in e-book form.
This (below) is the amazing cover artwork on the first edition.
I couldn't resist subscribing, and am loving the first edition so far. I'll keep you posted.