Franzen Says Ebooks not for Serious Readers

Literary author Jonathan Franzen says that ebooks aren’t for serious readers.  You can read  his comments here.

As a person who considers himself a serious reader, I take great offense at these remarks.  The medium through which a person chooses to read, whether paper, electronic, or (as in my case) a combination of both, is in no way a reflection of whether that person is a “serious reader”. 

Of course, Mr. Franzen doesn’t define what a “serious reader” is.  Is it someone who places a high priority on reading and buys numerous books every year or month or in some cases every week?  Or perhaps it’s a person who only reads serious Literature?  (Capitalization mine.)  

Aside from the brain-dead connection Mr. Franzen tries to make between paper books and responsible self-government, his remarks show just how out of step he is with vast numbers of readers, both here in America as well as other parts of the world.  Franzen is a darling of the literati, those arbiters of taste and snobbery, most of whom wouldn’t deign to read genre fiction.  At least not in public.  Franzen clearly seems to share this elitist view, despite the fact that his books are available in electronic editions.  He states that paper books provide a level of permanence.  He’s also gone on record saying that “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.”  I strongly beg to differ, but good fiction is in the eye of the beholder.

Still, I doubt Franzen would recognize good fiction if it bit him in the ass. 

Of course, Franzen’s remarks illustrate one of the results of a recent survey by Verso Digital.  Among their findings was that resistance to ereaders is growing, even among avid readers.  If I’m understanding the survey correctly, the resistance is from people who have never been inclined to read on an ereader.  Frankly, I don’t care what format you choose for reading.  Just don’t take a condescending attitude toward those of us who don’t choose the same as you.

Franzen also says that if printed books become obsolete, he’s glad he won’t live long enough to see it.  Given his attitude, I find it hard to disagree with that statement.  In the meantime, I’m going to read some good indie fiction.

On my ereader.

6 thoughts on “Franzen Says Ebooks not for Serious Readers

  1. Bridget McKenna

    Mr. Franzen may well be what a Hollywood friend of mine called a “media slut.” And when you’re a media slut and you have nothing of actual weight to say, “You kids get off my lawn!” will do as well as anything to get you a few inches of virtual ink

    1. Keith

      Well said, Bridget. Considering how he likes the limelight and publicity (at least from what little I’ve seen of the man), I think you’re right.

  2. Nathan Hall

    Having worked at a newspaper for the last 6 years I’m very familiar with this attitude. It’s unfortunate and I think a lot of it has to do with certain reporters, editors and readers simply being resistant to change, a lack of acceptance that the world is rapidly evolving with the technology that we’ve all in one way or another, helped to create.
    There are still plenty of people who want to consume and really truly value the stories we write, they just don’t want to be limited to doing it in one format.

    1. Keith

      Absolutely. It’s the story, not the format that’s important. It wasn’t until space considerations forced me to get an ereader that I really began to appreciate their possibilities. I had held off because at the time cash flow was restricted. Not only can I carry more than I could possibly read, but I’ve found I’m reading more widely and reading more things I wouldn’t have read if I had to buy them in paper. That includes fiction and nonfiction.

    1. Keith

      I mostly agree, Charles, but when people like Oprah (who selected at least two of his books for her book club) give this idiot a platform, some morons will listen to him. Then they become a nuisance to the rest of us.


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