Jonathan Franzen vs. ebooks

franzen-sidebar-175.jpgAcclaimed American novelist Jonathan Franzen, author of bestsellers like The Corrections and Freedom, has made it clear he is no fan of ebooks, and believes "serious readers" opt for the paper experience.

"I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn't change," Franzen said Sunday evening at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia, according to The Telegraph.

"Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don't have a crystal ball. But I do fear that it's going to be very hard to make the world work if there's no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government."

"The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it's pretty good technology. And what's more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It's a bad business model," he said.

The 52-year-old writer's comments have sparked a debate among media critics and writers.

"What would be best is if people who don't like a new technology — OK, let's be honest and call them Luddites — could admit that they simply are happy with the existing strategies," wrote Future Tense editor Torie Bosch. "It's not necessary to disparage the technology and everyone who enjoys it as somehow less serious or missing a grand philosophical point."

Alexander Nazaryan says that Franzen's main concern is over the "fleeting nature of ebooks."

"It's a fair worry, but a misplaced one. After all, printed books go through editions, too," Nazaryan wrote in the New York Daily News. "And to date, few prominent writers (if any) have used the ebook format to tinker with their work to readers' detriment."

International Business Times reporter Julia Greenberg also points out that ebooks may have encouraged more people to become avid readers.

"Many readers find themselves reading more frequently and buying more books in part thanks to the convenience of e-readers...A Digital Book World survey conducted by Forrester Research, Inc., has found that 47 percent of publishers believe more people will read books than in the past due to e-readers and digital formats."

What do you think? Do you agree with Franzen that ebooks aren't for "serious readers," or do you think the growth of ebooks has been positive for readers?