Skip to content


The year is nearly 2011 and, as people have yet to grow tired of saying (inexplicably), we do not have flying cars. 2011 (which is to be pronounced "twenty-eleven" rather than the far more cumbersome "two thousand and eleven", as the former conforms to how we have been stating years since the past century) sounds a great deal more futuristic and so society accordingly expects a jump in technology to place us at the level of The Jetsons (which was itself supposed to have already taken place).

I am not unhappy with the speed of technological evolution. I carry with me a Sony Reader, a device which contains within it hundreds of books. People have pointed to these devices (Nooks, Kindles, and the like) as the killers of the printed word, but MP3 players have yet to kill the recording industry, as eagerly as some may wish it. True, Readers lack the organic attachment of paper, in the same way hiss-less music might not seem as authentic to a seasoned audiophile accustomed to records.

Readers are not perfect. While they fairly sip at electricity, they do need to be recharged every week or so. The formatting on the books - especially those not acquired from stores but instead from free internet sources like Project Gutenburg - are sometimes rather off and in need of proofreading. While the Kindle has a screen that mimics paper rather well, other devices tend to have a shininess that produces a glare in full sunlight. However, they are an excellent step in the right direction.

I have a personal investment, however, as I am a legitimate writer and I vehemently disagree that ebooks are about to put a sword through the chest of literacy. (In anything, I read much more now that I have a virtual library in my bag.) I've been operating at a loss since I decided I was a writer but I am not about to stop (writing or operating at a loss). I create because there is no other way to live contentedly, because my characters promise to chat me into madness if I don't vent them upon a keyboard. I acknowledge that some people will only create because they see music notes or page numbers as dollar signs in waiting, but I find it too mercenary and their work, too empty.

I am a huge proponent for media being available in as many formats as is sustainable. I am overwhelmingly fond of my Sony Reader, as I can produce most works I might be referencing or can refresh myself on a passage on Fritz Zwicky at a minute's notice. I also have instant access to books I would otherwise have great difficulty in acquiring in print. The contents of my Reader (which are easily equal to my physical library) take up an SD card that is as light as a sheet of paper, immeasurably more compact (and easier to move when I opt for a new apartment). However, I am not a fan of hundreds of plastic cases and liner notes (though I remember with fondness the several page screed against deforestation Moby included in one of his albums with no evident sense of irony), so I tend not to purchase CDs anymore. They are a bit too fragile a form of media for my liking and too frequently contain bugs intended to cripple electronics. Others, as is obvious, still live by CDs and I am glad they can. Digital music has yet to kill recording companies and the smarter companies opted to evolve with the wants of their customers (the stupider companies opted to sue their customers). I even have friends who still swear by and collect vinyl (and, it should be noted, I salivate at the prospect of finding a first edition of a book I love).

Don't steal books, anonymous Straw Man to whom I am addressing this remark, but don't sneer at me because I would be delighted to hear people were trading copies of my work and were deeply interested in what I have to say. I write because I wish to be read and to affect the lives of strangers with my stories. Yes, I will delight in my royalties check received twice annually, but that is not the main reward for my toil.

It should be noted, the company for whom I am under contract, Double Dragon Publishing, is one of the premiere ebook publishers. Devices like my Reader allowed me to be published at less risk for the company, in both digital and printed form. Once the device is acquired, it is much cheaper and easier to acquire a book when one wants one, since there is no physical media to print and ship. Printed books will never cease to be, but it seems rather Luddite to think that ebooks should not exist as well.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.

eXTReMe Tracker