Do We Really Need a New Term for eBook?
There’s a new post over on Slate today that has me scratching my head, and I wanted to see what you thought. The post is a little wordy and IMO entirely on the wrong track, but I wanted to see what my readers thought.
The post is by the director and research coordinator at ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and these guys are arguing in favor of adopting a new term in place of the word ebook. Why? Because reading an ebook is not like any other reading experience:
Neurological effects, different types of media, totally new reading habits—just a few reasons why e-reading is a fundamentally different experience than curling up with a dead-tree book. Print books are a highly refined technology that isn’t going anywhere soon, but there are ways in which the digital is superior to the old-fangled, and vice versa: They’re horses of different colors.
And yet publishers keep trying to re-create the print experience online, with the faux wood of the iOS bookstore and the fake page-turning animations on many e-readers. It’s time for that to end. We need to embrace digital reading as its own medium, not just a book under glass. That means imagining a new language for reading as an experience, starting with a new word to use instead of book.
They propose that we replace all instances of the word ebook with the word codex:
Rather than grope forward, we decided to look back. With some trepidation, we would like to nominate codex, a word with a rich history that most of us don’t know anything about. Codex, derived from the Latin caudex (meaning “trunk of a tree”) even happens to contain the English word code, which will be central to the future of reading in a variety of ways.
I think this idea is a load of hooey, and I also think that they over-thought the idea. Check out their justification:
The things we’ll be reading in the future will not only involve a lot of programming; they’ll also require readers to decode complex, multilayered experiences and encode their own ideas as contributions in a variety of creative ways.
I don’t see any value gained from trying to swap out one term for another and I also don’t see how it could be accomplished in any practical way, but I wanted to hear other opinion. That post on Slate doesn’t have a comment section, and I would like to see this issue debated.
What do you think?