On my RSS feed this morning (via Dirk Deppey), I found this link to Stephen Schleicher’s recent post on the (according to him) exciting future of digital comics distribution. To be perfectly honest, it filled me with dread.
I like reading books. A lot. I like the feel of them, the smell of the paper, the winning combination of portability and tangibility. I like being able to pass a book from one person to another–knowing that something that I’m reading has been read by someone else before me, or that it will be someday in the future. More than any of that, though, they are just plain easy to read.
Now I know that e-readers are a different animal, and you can carry them around like a book, but it’s hard for me to imagine that those readability problems don’t still exist. Small text, problematic toning, screen glare? Mr. Schleicher wants to be able to “zoom in to see the fantastic detail in the art” but I don’t want to have to zoom in. I would like to be able to just use my eyes, which allow me to easily view a two-page spread of printed material in perfect detail without having to scroll or zoom or interrupt my reading experience in any way. Digital music was an easy transition for me. My journey from Walkman to Discman and finally to iPod was completely pain-free, and each step was genuinely easier for me than the previous had been. Reading comics digitally, on the other hand, just makes me cry.
I know there are lots of you who love your e-readers, or even love reading from your computers, and I’m not trying to harsh your squee, seriously. I wouldn’t expect or want to deprive you from enjoying comics or any kind of books exactly the way you want to enjoy them. I just hope that whatever happens, it doesn’t end up making print books (and particularly manga in print) more expensive and less accessible for old fogies like me.