This article is inspired by the fact that as of April 15th …
God or Godless became available in Kindle format!
But this isn’t just an occasion for celebration. It is also an occasion for reflection, sober reflection
I know ebooks are convenient and that some people much prefer them to good old paper. I’m not one of those people.
So I go in search of a justification for my prejudice. This article from Salon.com will do as good as any to provide some evidence to support that prejudice: “Do e-readers inhibit reading comprehension?” The authors say yes. Ebooks, they say, make it more difficult to assimilate the information of a sustained argument.
Think about the Bible. How many Christians have one particular Bible that is their go-to Bible? They may not be able to find key verses in other Bibles, but give them their Bible and they can beat any Hebrew Scripture university professor in a Bible drill. It is almost as if that physical book has become an extension of their being.
For me, reading is about the immersive, tactile, fully sensory experience of print book technology. And that includes the feel of the cover, the weight of the book in the hand, the sound of the turning pages, and even the smell: the nauseating vomit smell of a cheap paperback, the crisp euphoria of a delicately bound hardback, or the musty mystery of an ancient volume with a spine that cracks with every turn of the page.
My approach to reading experienced a minor revolution twenty years ago when I read Mortimer Adler’s classic essay “How to mark up a book”. In Adler’s estimation you don’t own a book when you put down money for it and get a receipt. You come to own it when you move beyond a sullen, one-way conversation to ply the book with a barrage of questions and comments by filling up the margins with your favorite pen.
Happy face, underline and highlight
Dog ear that page, crack the spine, leave a coffee stain on the cover
Circle the typos overlooked by a careless copy editor
Write sentences of commentary that start at the bottom of the page and snake up the side
Fill in the back pages with notes
And don’t forget to emboss the inside cover “From the library of…”
Now you own the book
I know e-readers have a comment function. I know you can highlight text.
But let me know when you can dog ear the pages.