For those book purists out there who fear that technology might be the end of the good old print and paper, the growing popularity of electronic books means bad news. Some pro-print coffee shops have gone so far as to ban e-readers from their businesses, according to the NY Times. Another NY Times writer said he faced Kindle prejudice when he pulled out his device at a Brooklyn-based establishment, only to be notified that there was no computer use 12 to 3 PM. Although he argued that his e-reader was not a computer, the employees said it still qualified.
Although I don’t agree with all the e-reader hate, I can see why coffee shops limit the use of computers in their establishments. I’ve been guilty of hogging space for hours, writing articles while only buying one cup of coffee and a pastry. In order to save money and still abide by the rules of free wireless for paying customers, I’ve sipped my coffee so slowly that by the end it was barely warmer than the iced version they were serving. Such is the life of a lowly writer, where buying something to quench your thirst can be a luxury you can’t afford.
However, e-readers don’t take up any more space than someone who brought a book to the shop. Coffee shops have always been a safe haven to hang out or peruse a magazine or book. It’s an area to study when you need a chance of scenery. Banning e-readers is just like banning the best part of going to a coffee shop – it’s the place you can rely on outside your home where you can relax or focus on a quiet project.
Banning the space hogs is fine, but trying to stop someone from enjoying a good read – no matter what form it comes in – is completely unnecessary. Instead, coffee shops should enforce a stricter drink-while-working policy or charge per hour for wireless use. If the indie business is completely against technology then they should ban all forms, which includes tablets, e-readers, smartphones, iPods, calculators, computers, etc. If you’re going to be a pretentious snob and demand things go back to the “good old days,” you better go the whole hog. Not your cup of tea or coffee? Then embrace the changing times and technology. E-readers not only make it easier to enjoy literature in public places, they encourage more reading – and in the end, isn’t that what all book lovers want?
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