Thursday, August 15, 2013

Verlyn Klinkenborg on E-Books

To Have But Not Hold?
Amazon Preview

Verlyn Klinkenborg has some bad news for my e-book . . . well, for all e-books:
I finish reading a book on my iPad -- one by Ed McBain, for instance -- and I shelve it in the cloud. It vanishes from my "device" and from my consciousness too. It's very odd.
Um . . . just a brief aside, but does that "It's" misfire? Twice before ("it" and "It"), this pronoun refers back to the term "e-book," but the pronoun here ("It's") would seem more generally meant to refer back to the experience of reading, shelving, and 'banishing' the e-book. Could one better say: "How very odd"? Or does Klinkenborg literally mean that the e-book itself is very odd? It's possible . . . Anyway, back to his observations:
When I read a physical book, I remember the text and the book -- its shape, jacket, heft and typography. When I read an e-book, I remember the text alone. The bookness of the book simply disappears, or rather it never really existed. Amazon reminds me that I've already bought the e-book I'm about to order. In bookstores, I find myself discovering, as if for the first time, books I've already read on my iPad.
Though he says he remembers only the text of an e-book, even that doesn't seem tightly fixed, or he wouldn't need reminding by Amazon not to order an e-book he already has!

Whichever the case -- remember or not -- Klinkenborg, in "Books to Have and to Hold" (New York Times, August 10, 2013), conveys bad news for my own e-book, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer. It is eminently -- and imminently (but not quite immanently) -- forgettable!

Now, what was I talking about? Ah, yes, being wedded to the physical book . . .

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