Can you dogear an e-book?

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Up early this morning, I listened to Bob Edwards talk with guests Ronald Rice and Ann Patchett. Rice is the editor of a new book, My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read and Shop (note, I’ve linked here to Amazon so you can read about this book, though the irony of buying it via Amazon is obvious). Patchett, whose fiction includes Bel Canto, is also now co-owner of a bookstore in Nashville. Both Rice and Patchett make a case for the importance of bookstores as places where recommendations go beyond the bestseller list–deep curation, if you will, and, perhaps most importantly, as community spaces where conversation and ideas flourish. According to them, physical books are essential to this process–you cannot sustain bookstores on e-books.

Years ago, news director Martha Foley’s husband Everett Smith described North Country Public Radio as “the general store of the air.”  Now, with so many competing media sources–most of them originating from anonymous national sources, rootless in terms of a specific geography–is it possible for radio, like the old country store, to survive and remain relevant? Somehow, the conversation about bookstores vs. Amazon, e-books vs. printed books strikes a parallel chord. What does a community have to do to make sure there is a place to gather or a service to cover local stories? Do e-books, as Patchett argues, erode the real place possibilities of bookstores? Do Sirius and Pandora take enough of the listener’s time away from local radio (heard over air or on digital devices) to make it impossible for local stations to be sustainable?

But back to books…earlier this week, Jackie Sauter pointed out that a series of related stories had all come through NPR in a single day. Here’s one about the upheaval and change going on in the publishing industry; one about the new frontier of  libraries and e-lending; another one about the complications for publishing companies wading into e-book publishing; and, one about author Margaret Atwood entering the world of e-publishing,  taking a different track from that being pursued by Ann Patchett.

In a post earlier this week, I asked you to tell me about what you’re reading during the holidays. I mentioned The Swerve which, in part, is about the physical and painstaking preservation of classics from the Roman and Greeks. What about preserving our literary heritage? Are there physical copies of all the e-books out there now? Does it matter?

Are you an e-book proponent? Do you love the immediate and easy access to virtually any title? Or, is the physical turning of pages or dogearing a corner the experience you prefer? Do both have a place?