I found Danny Heitman’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal about e-reading very interesting. His title was “What an E-Reader Can’t Download,” published on July 23-24 (p. A-11).
In the article, he talks about the memories that are anchored as he scans the spines of the books on his living room shelf. For instance, as he sees the spine of Fishing in the Tiber by Lance Morrow, he thinks of a visit he made to Cleveland in 1991, the dinners he had there, the bookstores he visited there, and so forth. “To see the book these many years later is to think of red wine and pasta, wind and winter, good friends and good writing.”
While he acknowledges that electronic books are associated with great convenience, he also notes that the “books on my shelf help me remember that reading isn’t merely an inhalation of data. My library, and the years and places it evokes, speak of something deeper: the interplay of literature and the landscape of a life, the vivid record of a slow and winding search for wisdom, truth, the spark of pleasure or insight.”
Of course, he is right. Books are symbolic. They stand for things. They evoke passion, interest, and curiousity. When you carry them around or when you have them on your shelf, people will ask “what is that about?” or “how did you like that?” That doesn’t happen with an e-reader.
Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other e-readers take all this out of the equation.
And that is very sad to me.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it!