Digital Books…the next generation reading format?

FIRSTIt was charcoal drawings on a cave wall (a precursor to modern graffiti)

NEXTIt was writing on scrolls

THEN CAMEThe Codex or, if you prefer, the bound book, magazine, or newspaper

TODAYWe move to digital text?

Delivering the “written word” digitally, as opposed to hard copy books, magazines, or newspapers is touted as the next generation in publication, replacing the codex (a.k.a. books & magazines) which has prevailed since the Middle Ages. There is considerable speculation that books and book stores may become obsolete. See The Bookstore’s Last Stand

By way of a brief history, the codex replaced the cumbersome scroll as a means of recording and publishing information.  It was considered a major advance as the pages were written on both sides and could hold twice as much information and text as the cumbersome scroll. It also allowed the reader quick access to any part of the publication by simply turning or marking a page. 

The codex or book, if you will, was the breakthrough technology of its day.

  • I suspect that the transition from the scroll to the codex may have presented some initial difficulties for scholars and monks.  Change is always a bit of a challenge regardless of the time or place!
  • YepTo reinforce the point, consider the situation portrayed in this Medieval Help Desk video when a monk sought technical advice on how to use the new book technology. 

Turning now to the 21st Century, it has now been a little over two weeks since I announced that we acquired an e-book reader in All A Twitter Over Our New Kindle

So how are we doing?

I was somewhat skeptical about the utility of the device; however, I must confess that while there have been some initial challenges in learning how to use it (climbing the learning curve, if you will), we enjoy it. I admit to having a certain amount of sympathy with the monk in the video learning to use the new book technology as we were similarly “challenged” for a few days by the Kindle. But we are well past all of that and are “experienced” users. 

On the positive side I can report that it is quite easy to read and operate. It is also quite convenient if one does not want to tote around one or more books on a trip.  As with most such devices, you can also subscribe to your favorite magazines and newspapers. Some local libraries are also making books available for e-reader users.

On the negative side, I find that the e-reader lacks the visual impact of a full page layout in a magazine or newspaper. In addition, the scanning and skipping around with your eyes, fingers, and thumbs while reading a “traditional” publication is a bit clunky. It is a bit of a regression, in a sense, to the limitations of the scroll when it comes to accessing specific pages or sections.  However, for straight ahead or linear reading without jumping around it is first rate. 

Speaking of reading, it is my turn on the Kindle. So I will bid adieu and take up a little light reading for the balance of the day…

NOTE: I somehow managed to put the Kindle down long enough to go outside and play with my camera toys. To view my latest attempts at photography, go to Photos from the street…

7 thoughts on “Digital Books…the next generation reading format?

  1. Ah, Frank, I knew if the 21st Century kept tugging gently on you, you’d take a step into it. We wait to see what is next. Netflix streaming? (you’re a natural with your love of movies) iPad? GPS? Remember never say never while the leprechauns are listening.

    • Netflix streaming? Moi??? To do that I would need a dual band router. Now, you may ask, how I know THAT! 🙂

  2. I look forward to having a Kindle; but witnessed another example of extreme “impoliteness” recently when an otherwise kind, courteous, thoughtful friend could not take her eyes off a game minutes after reconnecting with another old friend. I was shocked and am anxious to hear what “Miss Manners” has to say about “technology addiction.” Remember when we used to discuss, exchange ideas, play cards and games with friends?

    • ” Remember when we used to discuss, exchange ideas, play cards and games with friends?” It is so common to see people in restuarants ignoring their table companions in favor of ther mobile devices. It is the new normal. That does not mean I agree with the behavior…just to be (as Richard Nixon would have it) perfectly clear on the subject.

      Sigh 😦

  3. Didn’t mean to sound so crotchety — I’m sure “the elders” criticized families who sat and watched TV, or even sat around the radio. Just this morning a friend was criticizing a nephew who is “a mover and a shaker” in Orange County — he was on his cell phone during a family dinner during the holidays. I have to remind myself of the thin line between expressing myself and being crotchety!

    • Oh no! I think that the point is that you and I are used to a set of “rules” wherein we deal with, talk to, and listen to real people in real time–face to face. Rude is rude–Of course, many today do not think it is rude to text, talk on a cellphone, or otherwise engage with an electronic device instead of the person in front of them. The distractions are fun to watch, however. For example, watching people walk into each other or lamp posts because they are too engaged with ther handhelds. Recently, we observed two SUVS run into each other as the drivers were too busy with their cellphones.

  4. Pingback: 2013—Digital media expands…print media shrinks | The Petaluma Spectator

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