Chad Love: Will the Classics Go Digital?

Regular blog readers know I am a fan of books that consist of flattened wood pulp and ink rather than displays and hard drives. Still, it's obvious that dedicated e-book readers, tablet computers and other forms of digital information delivery are the future of publishing. Many magazines and book publishers are at this very moment scrambling to develop apps for digital delivery of their content, and there's an interesting New York Times article today comparing the cost of printing books versus digital editions. As I was reading it, this passage caught my eye.

From the story

"...Another reason publishers want to avoid lower e-book prices is that print booksellers like Barnes & Noble , Borders and independents across the country would be unable to compete. As more consumers buy electronic readers and become comfortable with reading digitally, if the e-books are priced much lower than the print editions, no one but the aficionados and collectors will want to buy paper books."

So that got me to thinking. My question is, are hunters and anglers - as practitioners of a lifestyle and cultural philosophy viewed by many as anachronistic - more or less apt to gravitate toward new reading technologies like the Ipad, or is the digital divide between books and bytes driven less by tradition and idealogy and more by the user's age and the price of the product? Or perhaps the subject matter itself dictates which form you choose?

As an example, I recently bought two books by long-time Field & Stream columnist Corey Ford. In an act of serendipity, they arrived in my mailbox the same day I received my March copy of Field & Stream. The magazine to my eyes is a thoroughly modern product, and I, despite my Luddite tendencies, could see myself reading and enjoying it on an Ipad. The book? Not so much. I'm a bibliophile, and I simply have no interest in reading a battery-powered copy of The Trickiest Thing in Feathers.

But that's just me. I represent a demographic of one. If all the great sporting classics backlists were digitized and offered up for your Kindles and Ipads at a discounted price, would you still choose the more expensive dead tree version? Or are Ruark and Hemingway still Ruark and Hemingway regardless of whether you turn a page or press a scroll button?