A few years ago, I got rid of all my paper books and switched exclusively to eBooks. Whenever I tell bibliophiles1 this, they usually shriek in horror. What about the smell of books2?!!? What about showing off your bookcases to impress people3!?!? What about your signed first editions4!??!?!
But the other day I had someone scoff at me and say "Good luck reading when civilisation collapses! I'll still be able to read by candle-light."
This is nonsense. In the case of a Zombie Attack, am I really going to lug a few hundred kilograms of books with me? Or am I going to slip a lightweight eReader into my pocket and have ten thousand books at my disposal?
Also, where is he getting all those candles from? My eBook has a built in light which is less likely to attract Zombies and isn't a massive fire hazard.
Perhaps he's concerned that an eReader battery won't last more than a couple of weeks and then I'll be stuffed. OK, sure. But I have a solar powered portable battery. As long as the dust clouds don't blot out Earth's yellow sun, I should be able to read indefinitely.
Now, it's true that my eReader might get a damaged screen, or dropped in a puddle, or suffer any of the same calamities which can also befall paper books.
Perhaps my interlocutor's glasses will break. If so, an eBook would let him boost the font size quite comfortably.
Frankly, the only thing paper books are good for in a post-apocalyptic wasteland is burning for fuel5.
But - and this is a big but - even if eReaders are vastly inferior in an emergency... so fucking what?
If civilisation doesn't collapse, I'd've wasted time, energy, money, and effort maintaining a physical library. I'd be limited to how many books I can take on a beach holiday. Every time I moved house I'd be straining my back carrying all of them. The fire-risk of hundreds of books would have been for naught.
It's the same as people who don't pay into a pension because they might be hit by a bus tomorrow. Sure. But what if you're unlucky enough to reach old age?
You can either live each day like its your last - and deal with the consequences of tomorrow when they come - or you can take a reasoned approach to the inevitability of the future.
So I'm going to enjoy all the comforts of an eReader now. Come the end-of-the-world, I will regret... well, probably nothing.
I don't want to live like a prepper and have a basement full of pickled vegetables slowly fermenting, or a library of paper slowly crumbling.
I want to take full advantage of the modern world while it still exists.
- Perverts! ↩
- Why do people always go on about this? They smell... fine, I guess? It's not as if I'm huffing them like an indelible marker. ↩
- I did a 2D printing of my bookcase mosaic! ↩
- I'll just the authors to PGP sign the purchase transaction on the BlockChain!!!! OK, I kept a few of my signed books. ↩
- See this insightful documentary about the thermal properties of burning books. ↩