Falling out of love (with e)
31.10.11 | Peter Cox
This is a difficult letter to write. You know more than I do how much we've tried to make it work over the past 13 years. I've taken you into my bed almost every evening. I often reach out for you in the dark of the night and stroke your pale radiance.
Honestly, I think my wife is beginning to suspect something. But that's not the reason for this letter. No. The simple truth is, I've fallen out of love with you.
It started, as all great affairs do, with enormous passion. I couldn't get enough of you. I took you everywhere I went: on buses, I balanced you precariously on my knee; on tubes, I fought off the ravenous stares of those who would steal you away from me. And you must admit, I've spent a fortune on you. Click, click. Another app, another book, another magazine subscription. You, subtle temptress that you are, made it all so very easy, didn't you? Then the credit card statements rolled in.
It was all so sweet at the beginning. Way back in '98, when the world was young and the HP Jornada with its sultry 16 megabytes was the apple of my eye. You didn't hawk your wares in those days. It was all done for love, not money: Project Gutenberg and Mobipocket Reader were all a chap could wish for.
It's all so very different now. You've tarted yourself up all right, with your embedded videos and added value content and other vampish enhancements. Perhaps you think they will hide the truth from me? Well, think again. Fact is, you bore me. There, I've said it! Every e-book I buy looks and feels just like every other one; remote, distant, joyless. There is no theatre, no staging, no thrill. You've taken the physical away, and what's left is e-mush. A bloodless library of titles that are very much less than the sum of their parts.
And I'm scared. Our relationship is getting out of hand. You're turning into a possessive, green-eyed monster. Soon, every title will be virtual. Just like synthetic food, bogus politicians and fake boobs. Simulated books for phony people. How very appropriate.
Except for this. It's not going to work. There are millions like me who have dined at your virtual table and left unsatisfied. We go to car boot sales: we know what the right price for a fake is. In your case, it's about 99 pence. That's all we'd give for your tawdry- imitation of passion. Fact is, you're disposable. I download you today, forget about you tomorrow. Like all things on the net, you're ephemeral. What was your name? I've just forgotten.
Let's be honest. It was an infatuation. You may still have your uses, but sweetheart, you will never be what you desire to be but cannot be: a real, flesh-and-blood book.