I have to be careful when saying that a digital product won’t undermine the analog experience. I hung on to my Canon Rebel 2000 for years until I realized the digital SLR was ‘not bad’ and in fact, good enough to make me switch. No need to belabor the vinyl music meets MP3 story.
So the news that Random House plans to digitize thousands of books to serve the nascent eBook demand, has me with mixed thoughts. On the one hand, I couldn’t see myself take a Kindle to bed, though I wouldn’t mind owning one. I can’t imagine how the book experience –that’s far beyond the reading experience–will ever be replicated or made obsolete by the tools we love in other platforms: scrolling, annotating, searching, linking etc.
In the end, the best way to think of the analog and digital bookshelf is not through the either/or lens. I may have a highly productive experience with a digi-book on a long plane flight, especially if it helps me load up the reader with other material and lighten my load. But I will always want that dead-tree experience for other times, even for that age old practice of standing in line for a book signing. Not that there won’t be a digital workaround for that soon!