Re: [mythsoc] Mythies with E-readers
- Interesting that Bill West's comment identifies a diminished reading experience of fiction or fantasy literature on an e-reader not felt when reading non-fiction electronically. There's a PhD thesis in teasing that thought out for some brave soul. Here's a possible place to start (please forgive the self-indulgence):Regarding the relationship between an artist and his materials, Tolkien once said, ‘Fantasy is made out of the Primary World, but a good craftsman loves his material, and has a knowledge and feeling for clay, stone and wood which only the art of making can give. . . . by the making of Pegasus horses were ennobled' (‘On Fairy-stories’, 53). I wonder if there is not some tangential relationship here to the authoring and reading of stories that connects to Bill's observation about a changed reading experience when done electronically. Are there any noticeable effects on what is produced when one transitions from writing a story onto a page by hand to typing it onto the keys of a typewriter and finally into a word processor via a keyboard? With a typewriter one still had to physically handle each page as it was typed and mistakes were more costly and difficult to conceal. On a computer screen deletions 'magically' disappear and leave no record of themselves (unless you have 'track changes' turned on, :)), and thus one can input words quickly with little concern or cost to whether they are the 'right' words or 'rightly' arranged, etc. Additionally, one often reads most of the 'pages' one has typed from a computer screen and does not physically handle them. Similarly, the reading experience necessarily changes (as Bill has noticed) when reading a story one never really has in their hands. A 'reading device' has been substituted for the 'book'. But the book (if written in the last 20 years) existed first as an electronic file and not as printed pages at all.Forgive the ramblings (a result of procrastinating my own PhD thesis!), but I'm now curious what Tolkien's thought that 'a good craftsman loves his material, and has a knowledge and feeling for clay, stone and wood which only the art of making can give' might have to say about a writer's artistic material, and the losses and gains involved in the transitions from pen and paper to ink and typewriter and finally keyboard and pixels. (I am aware that though Tolkien wrote longhand, he typed out most of LOTR's roughly 600,000 words three separate times.) Similarly, what is the effect on the reader of transitioning from printed and bound pages to an electronic reading device, and how might whether one is reading fiction or nonfiction influence the reader's experience.(There is a entire related branch to this topic needing to be explored on the effect of hearing stories recited or read aloud, as this was the way most of humanity experienced 'story' before the advent of the printing press.)Apologies for the lengthy post--perhaps my first should be my last!Cheers,
Not all those who wander are lost.
On Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 4:41 PM, Bill West <billwest48@...> wrote:
I bought a Kobo since I am a Borders employee and wanted to know what I was talking about when I sold it. I also had to downsize my book collection due to health problems and a move into
Senior Housing. I kept most of my fantasy and sf collection, and some of my history books with
the hopes I'd be able to replace them with ereader editions.
The problem was that many of the books I want to replace were published by college
or university presses. So far most of them are either not digitized or the ebook prices are
higher than what I paid for the print editions twenty years ago. On the other hand I have found
many inexpensive or free editions of books I hadn't owned before, such as works by Macaulay,
I haven't downloaded much fantasy as yet outside of some of Andrew Lang's "Fairy" books
and recently I purchased McKillip's "Bards of Bone Plain". While the latter is still wonderful
to read, it doesn't feel the same to be reading it off the screen instead of the printed page.
Strangely enough, I don't have that same sensation reading the nonfiction books.
Bill WestOn Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 9:30 AM, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:Berni, I would welcome this. Would you like to collate together the short comments and paragraphs offered so far into a single cogent piece? I'm afraid I lack the time for it just at the moment, but since it was your idea ...? :)
- I have an e-reader on my Palm PDA. The screen is almost big enough, and
since it is always with me, it means that I always have a few books in
my purse without taking up additional space. Readability is sometimes a
bit wobbly, but I can enlarge the print to where these older eyes can
see clear enough to not die of eye strain. Page turnings are more
frequent, but that is easy with the touch sensitive screen. And books
with footnotes are much easier to deal with, as the footnote is just a
screen touch away. Still I can't read it in Bright Light, so I won't be
using it at the pool any time soon.
I bought The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings specifically so that I
could have copies with me whenever I wanted them, and being able to
search electronically was also a useful function. A Paper Index at the
back of a book is nice, but direct search is some times more useful. YMMV
Current plans are to buy a Samsung Galaxy (android) phone soon, and drop
a reader with my books onto it. The screen is about the same size but
with an even better resolution, so readability should improve.
I would love to buy a Color Nook, as many of my favorite magazines
(Science News, Scientific American, Astronomy) come with lovely color
pictures and graphs, but I don't necessarily need to have the paper
copies of the magazines. But I may just end up buying a Color Tablet
with reader capabilities to avoid 1 trick ponies filling up my purse.
That is a debate for when the pocketbook recovers from New Phone Purchase.