The Freedom Of Reading eBooks In Public

04/17/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Charlie Brooker The Guardian

Following my blithering about the iPad the other week, I found myself thinking about ebooks. That's my life for you. A rollercoaster. Until recently, I was an ebook sceptic, see; one of those people who harrumphs about the "physical pleasure of turning actual pages" and how ebook will "never replace the real thing". Then I was given a Kindle as a present. That shut me up. Stock complaints about the inherent pleasure of ye olde format are bandied about whenever some new upstart invention comes along. Each moan is nothing more than a little foetus of nostalgia jerking in your gut. First they said CDs were no match for vinyl. Then they said MP3s were no match for CDs. Now they say streaming music services are no match for MP3s. They're only happy looking in the rear-view mirror.

Crackly warm vinyl sounds wonderful, but you can't listen to it on the bus, or squish it into a machine the size of a raisin. And unless your MP3s are encoded at such a low rate that it sounds as though the band's playing woollen instruments in a water tank, and provided you're listening to some halfway decent music in the first place, your brain quickly cancels out any concerns about "lossiness" and gets on with enjoying the music. I've never quite understood the psychological makeup of the self-professed audiophile - the sort of person who spends £500 on a gold-plated lead and can't listen to a three-minute pop song without instinctively carrying out a painstaking forensic audit of the sound quality. That's not a music fan. That's a noise- processing unit.

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