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Jonathan Franzen's in the news again, this time talking about how e-books are chiseling away at the foundations of civilization as we know it. Absurd, isn't it? That the author of two of the better regarded novels of the past decade (give or take) would be concerned about how you read his books. The problem, according to Franzen, is manifold. E-books and digital readers are a con designed to rob you of money that you could otherwise be spending on paper books; e-books are trivial non-objects that you cannot hold and fetishize; print books are durable ("I can spill water on it and it would still work!" he is quoted as saying); and, most perniciously, e-books are supplanting the gorgeous permanence of book-books. "But I do fear that it's going to be very hard to make the world work if there's no permanence like that," Franzen said. "That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government."