I finally read the Lucy Mangan article that mentions the Campaign for real books and, sadly, it was as counter-productive as I expected it would be. As the erstwhile guardianista waxed and waned above the plastic rim of the eReader, the readers’ comments turned it into a full on advert for Amazon.
There was eloquent testimony about the ease of the Kindle, its eco-friendliness and even, in one case, the Lazarus like resurrection of an infirm women’s love of reading – apparently the Kindle has got her attending book groups and Amazon’s ‘you might also like…’ is a bonafide miracle. I don’t mean to be snarky about what is a happy occurrence; as I said before, for some people eReaders are a godsend. But the truth is these people are outliers – an online article that meekly pitches real books against eBooks, who do you expect will comment upon it?
There was no challenge to claim that eBooks are better for the environment (as things stand, they’re clearly not) and there was only limited deconstruction of people’s anecdotal yet strident support for the Kindle. The Campaign for real books was on a hiding to nothing here. When you meekly pitch real books against eBooks in an arena that is biased towards the latter, only one thing is going to happen. Similarly there was no exploration (or even acknowledgement) of the cultural dangers of an Amazon hegemony, only a confusing and/or confused comment about authors earning less money despite prices remaining the same.
Mangan closes with a telling remark, “of course” she’s going to pay the subscription to Cambo, of course, but at the same time she’ll open her mind to eBooks. Isn’t this what people predicted? Instead of actually highlighting the problems with eBooks, The Campaign for real books somehow ends up a salve to people’s consciences in an imaginary dilemma. Behind the scenes the wheels keep turning.