Tuesday, April 28, 2009


So, there are a few people looking forward to the new digital age, so their houses filled with clutter can be ordered. By ordered the meaning is remove the books and CDs off your shelves, Tim Bray was quoted in this piece as "feeling crowded by the media artifacts", and longing for the day when "the chief furnishings would be a few well-loved faces and voices". There's something in this comment which resonates with me, and perhaps
explains why I'm not so keen on movement to the e-books. 
[The assumption that a] book remains a book when its words are transferred from printed pages to a screen. A change in form is always, as well, a change in content. That is unavoidable, as history tells us over and over again. One reads an electronic book differently than one reads a printed book - just as one reads a printed book differently than one reads a scribal book and one reads a scribal book differently than one reads a scroll and one reads a scroll differently than one reads a clay tablet.
I know that I won't find it easy to experience the same escapism in reading a book from an electronic device than I do as I read a book curled up in bed. As it is I read online information differently to how I read the printed page. My mind wanders a little too easily when I'm reading a piece online. (Here's another piece about the changing way we read and write)


  1. I could see me keeping physical copies for some books (my favourites) but e-Books for the rest (e.g. reference books like dictionaries and the like; certain non-fiction books). Our relationship with books differs according to the book. Sometimes I feel the pressure of media clutter (usually when I'm moving house!), so it's nice to have options! In addition, from an editing point of view, e-Books are easier to search to verify quotations and page numbers!

  2. I know what you mean, about feeling the pressure of media clutter when you move - pack and unpack books and cds; and I can see the usefulness of e-books when you are writing or editing things.

    I reckon once we deal with our books, digitial storage will be the next issue...

  3. The medium is the message?

    It always reminds me of 'Fahrenheit 451' and his reflections on the virtues of print and paper, and the materiality and possibility of flaws and so on vs. a screen... But that's not quite the same, since he was more contrasting books to tv. I wish I could remember the passage better where he talks about how great the physicality of books is. Have you read it? It made quite an impression on me when I was 16.

  4. Yeah - I have read Fahrenheit 451 I don't remember it very well though. I'll have to read it again ...