The crux of this whole thing with ‘The Sentimentalists’ is: what’s a book? Is it that fancy artisanal piece that (Gaspereau publisher) Andrew Steeves and company makes, or is it the words [Johanna Skibsrud] wrote, regardless of the delivery methods? I still buy physical books too. Sometimes there are books that … I’m going to want on my shelf. But I’m running out of space in my house and most of the time it’s about reading – it’s not so much about the physical object, although I love them as sort of fetish objects.
This is the thing: people seem to have this belief that books (the words, content, form) will remain the same regardless of “delivery method.” This is why they are insistent that the medium doesn’t matter. But why would this be so? Sure, they mimic paper books right now, but that’s because pbooks still exist and are still reasonably popular. If you remove pbooks from the equation, if pbooks are relegated to “fetish objects” what’s to prevent ebooks from morphing into very different things—or, rather, non-things?
I’m not passing judgment on whether that would be good or bad, I’m just pointing out that it’s likely. Not immediately, but eventually. And I just wonder if people’s feelings about ebooks might be different if, for example, they knew that eventually people would stop writing novels because that’s obsolete pbook genre. (Not really that farfetched. The novel is a pbook genre.)