Back to the future of print

By Bai Ping ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-08-30 07:22:44

E-readers offer ease of use, but are unlikely to replace the printed page.

Back to the future of print

Paperback owls 

Back to the future of print

E-publishing opens film doors 

When I took stock of my recent reading, it occurred to me that I haven't read a single e-book this year. Actually, my e-readers have been gathering dust for even longer - like other old electronic gadgets, they've been ditched in the junk drawer.

But an e-reader is not exactly like a floppy disk or a cassette recorder from the 1980s. Only three years ago, as one of the early adopters of e-books in China, I would read one or two e-books every week, all of which had been sourced from the Web, with the genres ranging from memoirs to histories to management theories to fiction.

Fans of e-readers loved them because they were easy on the eyes, with no glare or backlighting, and had text as crisp and clear as a printed page. In a conservative culture where people are conscious of what other people think of them, the devices allowed us to devour light and "frivolous" books that we would be wary of being seen reading in the traditional format.

Sometimes, when I looked around at my bookshelves bursting with physical books, I couldn't help but think that the e-reader with a capacity for thousands of tomes was the best thing that had ever happened to my reading life.

However, the biggest allure of investing in an e-reader that could cost thousands of yuan was the promise that it would open the door to an endless supply of e-books at no cost, which played into the traditional Chinese psyche that information on the Internet should be free.

Back then, there were numerous free resource sites run by commercial websites, and supported by thousands of volunteers who scoured the Web for interesting reads.

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