As the popularity of e-readers continues to grow (and both Barnes and Noble and Amazon continue to develop and release updated versions of their “Nook” and “Kindle” brand e-readers, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on how that popularity will effect us as readers, thinkers, and consumers of print media.
Below you will see a familiar image, that of a stack of print books
and here are some examples of the bound books technological competitors
It is clear that, at least in terms of their appearance, there are few similarities between the paper embodiment of a book and it’s digital counterpart. This seems logical enough, however, it is the experience that we have with a text that seems like it would require more carefully nuanced attention at this point. Of course, it could be argued that the act of reading is still, fundamentally the same. Your eyes scan the text that is aligned and configured onto the page in sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. This much is still the same. However, is there anything that is lost, or perhaps misplaced, in the transition between the medium of print and the medium of digital projection which happens each time an e-reader is turned on? Also, as we spoke about the Google Book project, should we be completely accepting of the idea of all texts existing on the Web, without worrying about the presence of a material referent in the physical world? Do these seem to be genuine points of concern, or, are they merely fragments of nostalgia that people will become more agreeable to let go of as time goes by and the realities of digital reading become more common place?