RARA-AVIS: Electronic Books

From: Mark D. Nevins (nevins_mark@yahoo.com)
Date: 07 Nov 2009

  • Next message: Debbi Mack: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Kindle"

    This has been an interesting off-topic thread--as much for seeing people's reactions to the changes in book technology as anything else.

    But joke about medieval manuscripts all you want: they remain the single most effective means of preserving texts thus far created by hupemans, excepting perhaps stone engraving, which can be a bit harder to store/handle, and if kept outside--often their usual place--tend to wear out with rain. 

    While working on my doctoral dissertation I had occasion to handle 1000-year old manuscripts on vellum on many occasions, and they were always legible, a pleasure to read, and extremely durable.  Ironically, when I go back to access chapters of my dissertation on my hard drive, saved 15 or so years ago in Microsoft Word, I am astonished to discover that my current version of Microsoft Word is unable to open them!

    Like others here, I enjoy the pleasures of the artifact (the book) as much as the pleasures of the text.  I can see lots of arguments for the Kindle etc. in terms ease and portability, and I have even read some short stories (F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Gibson) on my iPhone--not something I feel I'd enjoy doing regularly, but a way to pass some time on the subway or in a waiting room when I've found myself with nothing else to read.  But given that some music DVDs I bought 20 years ago are not playing well today, I'd be very concerned about trusting humanity's archives solely to digital media forms.

    Mark Nevins

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