The article starts out with a big whine by the researchers that the prestigious German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung a.k.a. FAZ said mean things about their study on the front page of the FAZ arts and culture section, which promptly led to cries of Luddism and “Isn’t this libel?” in the comments at The Passive Voice. Honestly, The Passive Voice is a great blog for publishing news, but the commenters are a tad extreme at times.
Since Discovery does not link to the actual FAZ article, I took the liberty of digging it up myself and here it is. First of all, it’s notable that the article is from October 2011, i.e. it’s almost one and a half years old. Upon reading the FAZ article, it turns out that it is in fact a very detailed critique of the study and its methods and conclusions as well as of that fact that the study was not even finished when the first press release was issued just in time for the Frankfurt book fair 2011. And yes, the FAZ did ask who financed the study (a subsidiary of the German bookseller’s association). Nonetheless, this is not libel, but good and critical science journalism.
To be fair, here is the link to the actual finished study.
However, this does not mean that German print newspapers in general (they are currently lobbying for a law to stop Google from linking to newspaper articles without paying license fees, which is so stupid it’s mindboggling) and the FAZ in particular are not Luddites. Frank Schirrmacher, editor-in-chief at the FAZ is noted for publishing books such as this one about how computers, the internet and Google make us stupid (and because I’m mean, I’m linking only to the Kindle edition this time around).
What is more, there are plenty of anti e-book articles to be found in the Arts and Culture section of the FAZ, including these rather amusing highlights:
- A review of the Kindle (the old keyboard model) by eightysomething writer and philosopher Hans Magnus Enzensberger He thinks the keys are too small, is missing scroll buttons and generally prefers print books.
- Science journalist and host of a popular science program on German TV Ranga Yogeshwar about Amazon, the evil monopolist and how it is making publishers superfluous (Uhm, isn’t that a good thing?). It’s notable that Yogeshwar is not against e-books, but he is against Amazon, probably because he has an e-book platform of his own (which I’ve never heard of BTW) to peddle.
- An article by David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale University, waxing poetic about how wonderful print books are. Now I like print books and often prefer tham to e-books, but this ode to the print book made even my eyes glaze over.