Why not tee shirts?

In any talk of books some person in the audience will rise and shout, “No! You’re all wrong. Books are this…” and then proceed to argue for one approach that must encompass all. With a discussion of digital books the argument usually is that all text must be reflowable and that fixed layout is an inherently bad, archaic practice carried over from print. Often inserted is the admonition regarding layout design, “You don’t need it.”

In no way am I ever saying all books should become apps.

In no way am I ever saying that prose is unsuitable.

In no way am I ever saying that reflowable e-books are bad for textual narratives.

In no way am I ever saying that all non-fiction must be comprised of multimedia.

One format doesn’t fit all needs any more than tee shirts fit every occasion.

Sure, a guy with a tee shirt, and likely a beard, is exclaiming somewhere that there’s no reason for anyone to wear anything other than a tee shirt. And, in fact, one could make a reasonable argument that there is absolutely no reason why garments other than tee shirts need to exist. Want to dress up formally? A tee shirt with a fake tux on the front could do. Want a dress? Just wear a long tee shirt. And on and on. But the fashion industry has found a way to carry on and prosper despite the utility and low cost of the tee shirt. The publishing industry will do the same. Likewise, there’s a lot of money to be made in tee shirts; lots of money to be made in reflowable e-books. But we know stories can be told with other garments as well.

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