We ran across an article in The News Herald about the classic books that aren't available in e-book format yet and we were surprised at the list they dug up. We did a little research and found even more titles that you can't read on a Kindle, Nook, iPad (no matter what version it is) or any other e-book reader, such as The Life of Pi by Yann Martell, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Benjamin Spock, Creatures That Once Were Men by Maxim Gorky and Being and Time by Martin Heidegger. Those might not be essential reading for everyone, but the following novels are. Unfortunately, in order to enjoy these titles, you'll have to pick up an ink-and-paper version.
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The saga of a family through seven generations in Colombia falls in the Kinda/Sorta column. It's available in e-book format -- in Spanish. If you're looking for an English version, you're outta luck. The problem here seems to be one of cost. Not only does the author get paid, the translators get paid as well. One Hundred Years of Solitude was released in 1967, an eon ago when it comes to copyright law. Who gets paid, what and when is in a muddle for a great many books. A lesser title might not encounter the same roadblock but Marquez's novel would sell enough in e-book form to cause any publisher headaches with regards to royalties.
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark. Another entry in the Kinda/Sorta column. The title is available in e-book format to readers outside the United States. Complications with international copyrights, royalties and such are keeping the science fiction novel on paper in America -- for now.
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The cantankerous, über-protective Salinger never allowed any adaptation of his novel, including no film versions. (Everyone from Elia Kazan to Steven Spielberg got shown the door.) Since his death two years ago, his agents have continued the "no adaptations" mantra.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. As wonderful as the movie was, it isn't enough. You have to read the book in order to get the full impact of Scout's story, a multilayered account of growing up among prejudice in the deep South.
Like Salinger, Lee has always been very protective of her story. Now 85 years old, Lee is in ill health with reported memory loss and partially deaf and blind, so transferring her masterpiece to an electronic format might not be at the top of her to-do list. Lee long ago made her distinct preference for ink-and-paper books well known: She sent O, The OprahMagazine a letter in 2006 that stated, in part, "Can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up -- some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal."
1. Harry Potter and the (fill in the blank) by J.K. Rowling. The Boy Who Lived isn't in e-book format even though the series was completed more than five years ago. Of course, since she's already richer than Queen Elizabeth, Rowling might not be in any particular hurry to rake in more sales, but we're pretty sure her publishers don't share that attitude. Rowling has been promising e-book versions of her witchy series for more than a year, including an October 2011 delivery date, but nothing has hit the shelves so far. Technology is at least partially to blame in this instance. There still isn't a universal e-book format and each version released costs money. So let's see, seven books, thousands of pages, dozens of illustrations, several formats...carry the 1, add the 0 ... yep, that would cost big bucks to release.
Update: The Harry Potter series has now been released in e-book format. Compatible with all the major e-book readers, and available in English in U.S. and U.K. edition, the series is priced at $7.99 per title and available only through www.pottermore.com, a J. K. Rowlings website. French, Italian, German and Spanish editions are set to be released in the coming weeks.