Jonathan Franzen, the author of 'Freedom' and 'The Corrections,' calls e-readers incompatible with 'responsible self-government.'
Jonathan Franzen doesn’t want you to read his bestsellers on e-readers. The acclaimed novelist of “Freedom” and “The Corrections” launched a tirade against e-books at a recent literary event, calling them “not for serious readers” and “damaging to society.”
Franzen was speaking at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia, when he sounded his battle cry against e-readers, harsh shots at technology now heard ‘round the book world.
“The technology I like is the American paperback edition of ‘Freedom,’” Franzen said at the Festival. “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,” said the novelist who famously cuts off all connection to the Internet when he writes.
“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.”
“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.”
Franzen isn’t the first to come out against e-books, but he may be the first to have attacked them so damningly, as incompatible with justice or responsible self-government. He went on, explaining that he felt reassured by paper books’ permanence and distrusted the constant possibility of change in an e-book.