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31 August 2009

Sensuality of Reading, Part II

I have a feeling that the discussion about books and reading will continue for a long time to come. And, that is a good thing.
To continue putting down some adnascentia (see Save The Word entry on 8 Aug 09!), let me start with Ursula LeGuin who was interviewed on To the Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio (heard it while stuck last night eastbound on Eisenhower, blockage due -- we believe -- to an accident). She spoke of publishers regarding books like magazines -- transient, timely, throw-away. And, she thought the solution someday soon would be what we call "Print on Demand," a marrying of technologies that would allow those who want to read a book from a screen to do so and those who prefer something printed and bound could also get what they want or need.
Also, there's a great interview with Sherman Alexie in the October Advance catalog from Ingram Book Company. Now, that's one hardcopy publication I cannot work with online -- I carry it everywhere and take all sorts of notes to help (I hope) us determine which titles to bring into Books on First. It has gotten wet, dog-eared, scribbled on, folded over... Anyway, I digress...
Sherman Alexie was criticised for saying that Kindles were elitist -- for various reasons, like they're expensive to buy (my note: and may be expensive to maintain, e.g., requiring electricity for recharging batteries). However, he does concede they are great for people with disabilities (hey, didn't I say that, too? He said it better!). I can't link you to the interview, but let me see if I can copy some of it here sometime.
In sum, he also used the word "tactile" and told of friends who said pretty much the same things I have heard. There was one thing that he mentioned that I had not articulated quite so well and to which my inner voice said, "Yes!" A friend told him, "I like to measure my progress when I read. ... I like to see that I'm getting near the end of the book. With the Kindle, it always feels like I'm on page one."
While the above comment might have to some the feel of a "Are we there yet?," I think many of us like to see how far we have progressed with a story. At a recent gathering, one family member offered to lend to a cousin The Shack, which is a very popular and raved-about book (it's not for everyone, but it's apparently for a lot of people). The one who had read it said something like, "I didn't want it to end. When I saw I was getting close to the end of the book, I read slower and slower." Now, that's as a good an endorsement of a book as I ever heard. And, how could he have done that unless he physically had the book in his hand, saw the number of pages left, felt the sadness and dragged his feet/eyes accordingly? Not having been given a free Kindle from Amazon.com to play with, I do not know, but suspect there's a little # of ## page indicator somewhere, but I have to believe it's not the same tactile experience.

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