E-books And Print Books: The Apocalyptic Showdown

E-books And Print Books: The Apocalyptic Showdown

Okay, guys. We’ve all heard the arguments a hundred times. We know what the advantages of e-books over print books are, and vice versa; we’ve had different e-readers reviewed and their various weakness and strengths stuffed in our faces until we no longer have any idea what to think and are glad we bought ours before we knew what we were doing; and we’ve generally come down either in favour, against, or perched evenly in between.

So we don’t need to do that all again.

But there’s one question — one thing that will give a truly definitive answer — that nobody, as far as I know, has considered. Not one person has thought about this. Fairly stupid, right?

Okay, so you know in the legends and stuff, Bibles are a fairly good defence against supernatural beasties? You know, vampires, werewolves, demons, the like. It varies from story to story, and there’ll always be someone who disagrees, but it’s a fairly well-known fact. You’ve got hellhounds on your tail, grab a Bible.

{I realise I am grossly oversimplifying this for the purpose of humour. So bite me.}

Well, since getting my Kindle and discovering a pretty decent version of the Bible available for free, I don’t tend to use a physical paper Bible anymore. I mean, I’ve got one. (Or four.) But I’m not going to carry it anywhere, and it’ll probably just lurk on the shelf until the next time I decide to look up something in Revelation while my Kindle is out of battery, which happens surprisingly often.

I wrote a novel about the apocalypse last year. Biblical research = most definitely necessary in every way.

But would a Kindle edition actually succeed in scaring off / injuring a beastie? Would it make a difference whether the Kindle was turned on and the Bible was open, or whether it had been open when the Kindle was turned off; would it have different strengths of Biblical demon-repelling depending on battery level?

You know, these are important questions. We ought to think about things like this.

I mean, does the Kindle take on the essence of something holy because it contains holy books, and therefore would the principle be the same with other holy books? Would it be countered by anything secular also stored on there, especially if the secular novels contradicted Biblical values and beliefs? Would that take away its power, or perhaps invert it? Because that would be the last thing you’d want.

Of course, then you get into complicated questions. Does the language that the Bible is written in actually matter — does it have to be the original scrolls? (In which case, come the apocalypse / vampire invasion, we’re all royally screwed. Call the Winchesters!) Is a leather-bound church edition more valid than a cheap paperback; is a King James more potent than a Youth Bible?

Let’s say all the paper ones are equal. So the Kindle is too, right? Only, a paper book is a paper book from its printing to its deterioration from age and multiple re-readings. A Kindle changes its nature every time you close a book and open a new one. If anything, it’s more like a bookshelf: it does not become the book you’re reading, just stores them.

I guess the conclusion we can draw from this is fairly simple: if you’re being attacked by supernatural beasties, you’re going to want paper books. After all, come the apocalypse, toilet paper will be worth its weight in gold, and you might be grateful for those cheap mass-market paperbacks….

{Just in case, I refer you to my earlier comment about this being for the sake of humour. No disrespect is meant to anybody, except perhaps any supernatural beasties hanging around nearby. Unless they’re my characters, they can clear off.} 

22 thoughts on “E-books And Print Books: The Apocalyptic Showdown

  1. When the day of the apocalypse finally dawns, those in possession of Twilight will be better off than most of us. They have extra kindling, toilet paper, makeshift plates…

    All joking aside (or at least, most of it), I agree with you here. Bibles are sacred because they hold the holy words of knowledge, untainted by extraneous matter. Kindles and Nooks, however, have both sacred texts and gritty fantasy novels– how could they be anywhere near as effective?

    1. Will the day of the apocalypse dawn? I always assumed the sun would be blocked out and that would be how we’d know it was the apocalypse and not a student film being made in the streets nearby.

  2. This is actually the best thing ever. Just saying.

    In cast of apocalypse, I’ve got a bible handy . . . well, it’s a school copy that I’ve purloined. Double bonus though – one one hand, it’s a bible that I can (literally!) bash things with, and advantage the second is that as it is pilfered the beasties might mistake me for one of their own in disguise and leave me be.

    On the other side of the argument – I reckon the Bible could be printed on toilet roll and still be the same thing. It’s the words and the message that matter, a mon avis, not the platform it appears on. It’s not as if the Bible could have said anything about it anyway – it’s not like Jesus spent time predicting the Impending Age of the E-book when he was busy giving important ethical teachings.

    . . . And now I have a mental image of Jesus sat on a cloud somewhere looking for a point to plug in his Bible. Presuming Jesus gets problems like that.

    1. Glad you think so. Literally, this is the only thing I’ve thought in the past week that was post-worthy. I have been bereft of blog ideas, hence my relative silence.
      Oh, look at you, getting all serious and philosophical. Well, up to a point… ;-)

  3. An excellent point. I haven’t thought about that either. I do know that, if Jesus does use a Kindle, he never loses any of his files. Why? Because Jesus saves.
    (/rimshot).
    :P

  4. The issue of toilet paper is even more significant than the Biblical implications.

    Being short on both toilets and toilet paper here in West Africa brings a whole debate about the value of the Kindle.

    While it can be read in bright sunlight, which is very useful when squatting over a hole in the ground, and is light enough not to unbalance you at the crucial moment, it is absolutely useless as a stand-in when the Andrex runs out. It just slides around your backside, making an unholy mess, and can be very awkward to read for several days afterwards, making it very difficult to tell which books are actually crap and which are just covered in it.

    A good paperback, by contrast, can provide weeks of valuable use on a read and wipe basis.

    1. Though preferably only to be used to wipe AFTER they have been read. (And even then, I fear that papercuts may be a little too frequent.)
      In Terry Pratchett’s books, one of the witches (Granny Weatherwax) uses the previous year’s Almanac as loo paper for the whole following year. She says they make the paper nice and soft deliberately.
      Oh, and did you see Bob Mayer’s Apocalypse survival guide thing that came out a while back? Not even kidding, the paper version had pages DESIGNED to be used as toilet paper in the event of an actual apocalypse. Now that’s what I call marketing.

  5. I view this to be the same debate as the one about whether two sticks, held crossed in front of you, count as a “cross” for the purposes of scaring vampires. Once you put them down, they cease to be a cross, just like the kindle would cease to be a bible when you moved to the next book.

    Other thoughts: does the beastie have to know the kindle contains a bible? How much of the effect of real bibles is because the beastie sees the bible and assumes it is a problem for them?

    Also, on a slightly different note, do bibles work on vampires and other beasties which are older than 2000 years?

    1. Mind=blown. Good questions.
      So is the Biblical effect largely a placebo? If, say, Good Omens were put in the cover of a Bible, would that still have the same effect, despite it having no theological significance (but being very funny)? If that were true, then the ancient beasties wouldn’t be afraid of it. But if it had physical power, then it stands to reason they would be affected by it, just as the Roman army would have been distressed by a machine gun despite it not having existed as a weapon when they were around. I mean, it would work in a similar way, wouldn’t it?

      1. Exactly. And in the same way as both a machine gun and a rocket launcher would scare Romans, would a star of David, or a Buddhist wheel of life scare beasties? Does the cross hold more power than other religious symbols, or is its popularity due more to the fact that it’s easier to carry in a fight?

        I think we might need to do some experiments. Anyone have a vampire handy?

  6. I usually don’t read e-books, unless the book is so freaking heavy to carry. I can’t compare ebooks and paperbacks, but as an author, I would prefer my book in paperback.

    1. I have to say, I WISH I’d read A Song of Ice and Fire in ebook form. Carrying A Dance With Dragons on a train (over 1000 pages, hardback) was a nightmare.
      But I know what you mean. When St Mall’s came out as a paperback it was very, very exciting.

        1. It’s okay if you get a seat, I suppose… but on a crowded train, trying to hold onto the standing poles while holding it with one hand? Doesn’t work. At all. (One time a girl reading a thin paperback saw me and gave me her seat because she could read hers standing up and I couldn’t. I was very grateful.)

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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