The pleasure of a well-made book (began with e-readers)
- On 2/18/2011 3:56 AM, John Davis wrote:
> (Rather off-topic from Tolkien, and indeed E-readers, but as a reply to
> Travis I hope y'all forgive me.)
> Hi Travis,
> One lengthy post deserves another...!
> Like many people I guess, I spend my day staring at a computer screen,
> often writing or editing. But when I read for enjoyment, I'd always
> rather read a 'real', paper and ink book. But more than that, I'd far
> rather read an old, second-hand book than a new copy. In fact, I stopped
> reading a new version of Blackwood's Human Chord after a chapter or so,
> and went and found an old 1920s version, which I enjoyed far more. I
> just find the touch, the smell, the look of an old book to be so much
> more aesthetically pleasing. It is a pleasing crafted object in itself,
> regardless of the words it contains.
One of my treasured objects is a reproduced 1733 edition of the "King
James" New Testament. I use it while preaching at French & Indian War
re-enactments. It is bound using 18th Century techniques. Anyone
interested can see it is a recreation ("www.18thcenturybibles.org" on
the very last page is a bit of a clue), so it is not a collectible in
the sense that an original would be. Also, the use of the long S (said
to look like an "f") makes reading it, for the first few paragraphs, a
Yet, just as you said, I find myself reading this book sometimes just
for the pleasure of holding the thing in my hand. The feel of the
lambskin is hard to duplicate in a (insert your e-reader here). I used
to fear reading my Folio Society editions of Hobbit and LoTR because it
would make them less saleable. I realized after a while that they will
probably only leave my possession at the dissolution of my estate, so
phooey on hermetically sealed storage. Now there are a few small scuff
marks on them. Yes, I wash my hands before reading them; no, they aren't
the latest editions of the texts; but there is a joy in the act of
reading a well-made book that can't be duplicated on a screen.
I'm no Luddite. I do like text search in an e-book. I also recognize
that someone probably grumbled soon after Gutenberg's invention had
taken hold, that "ufing one of thefe ftupid 'books' fimply cannot
compare with the fpiritual fenfe one gets from a parchment fcroll". And
maybe he was right, too.
(You probably don't have a font with a long "S" so I cheated. You get
- 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.