Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Dream of the Future

By Keith N Fisher

Not too long ago, the printed word on paper was still the way most of us caught up on current events. Television news was great, but nothing compared to reading a morning newspaper while eating breakfast. The paperback book had gained a large share of the market, and I wrote novels on a manual typewriter.

Although, I’m not the only person to get the idea, I later, caught a vision of the future. It came while watching Star Trek on TV and in movies. I noticed that reading, writing, and even maintenance reports in the ST universe, are done with electronic pads. It made perfect sense to me. I predicted we would spare the trees and imbed everything on computer chips. In the future we would check out electronic pads from the library. The required shelf space would be cut in half.

My prediction came before the World Wide Web really took hold. I figured research would be done with a stack of electronic pads sitting on a desk. I never considered the actual electronic file.

I walked by a newsstand the other day and had to stop and read the headline. It was the fulfillment of my prediction, it read, Libraries countywide begin putting serious cash into e-books. The article said that libraries are bowing to the patrons who own e-readers.

With the advent of e-books and e-readers, the future is here. Even though I was wrong about the way we would receive the books, we can check out and read them on our pads. Writing can also be done on those same pads. I now, write on an 11-inch laptop.

Even though we are living the inevitability of the future, I think we’ve lost more than we’ve gained. It’s true I use the Internet for research, and I get my news from TV and Yahoo. I take my laptop almost everywhere, but I can’t see what’s on the screen. E-readers are small, but they will never replace the look and feel of a newly printed book. The pleasure of spilling my oatmeal on the paper, with it spread out on the table, will never be replaced. I’m learning to do without. I don’t sit down for breakfast anyway.

I’ve written before about e-book pricing and my feelings concerning selling our work too cheap. Therefore, it’s probably best to not bring that up again. Nevertheless, the cat is out of the bag, we must deal with our creation. We probably won’t suffer the burden of too many e-readers on our desks, as in Star Trek, but I don’t think readers will grow tired of paper either. Then again, maybe I ought to seal my books in a vault for the future. They might be antiques someday.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

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