Monday, April 20, 2009
Revolution in reading
The explosion in e-books seems to have had this happy result: Those who download and read them on a Kindle or iPhone or iPod Touch or Blackberry "buy significantly more books than they did before owning the device, and it's not hard to understand why: The bookstore is now following you around wherever you go. A friend mentions a book in passing, and instead of jotting down a reminder to pick it up next time you're at Barnes & Noble, you take out the Kindle and -- voilà! -- you own it."
Reading e-books this way allows the user to be distracted easily, to check the stock market or post a tweet on Twitter in mid-chapter, to buy and download a new book on a whim. One's attention span suddenly is fragmented.
"As a result, I fear that one of the great joys of [printed] book reading -- the total immersion in another world, or in the world of the author's ideas -- will be compromised. We all may read books the way we increasingly read magazines and newspapers: a little bit here, a little bit there."
These are among the provocative insights in a Wall Street Journal article today by author Steven Johnson, "How the E-book Will Change the Way We Read and Write."
(A tip of the e-hat to half a dozen Twitterers for the heads-up.)
LATER MONDAY: I was a book review editor for 33 years and never heard of "fore-edge painting," but there's an enlightening Web site devoted to it. (Thanks to Shelf Awareness.)