January 30, 2012

Do You Have the Paperback or the Hardcover?

Marco Arment:

“Many people romanticize the experience of reading a printed book, but I just don’t get it.”

Me, either. I recall this sort of ado being made when CDs began replacing vinyl recordings. At least in the case of reading materials there’s no degradation of content.

Switching from paper books to a tablet seems a no-brainer for me. There’s less bulk and waste, and my library goes with me without a moving truck.

There’s no shortage of people who favor the old over the new. For some it’s a simple affection for the codex form. Ink, paper and binding have a certain appeal lost in digital forms. Paper book fans should recognize affection as a creation of the mind, unconnected to the author’s work.

For others it’s a contrarian attitude to modern living that eschews digital forms for analog. There’s no small degree of resistance to change in this. Even those who embrace modern technology need occasional refuge from it, and reading materials are a neat place to draw the line. We should recognize the act of resistance to the form as just that, rather than invent secondary effects of the form.

The theater of the mind knows no difference between digital and analog delivery, any more than the clothes you’re wearing moderate the enjoyment of prose while you read. The delivery vehicle makes no difference to how you perceive the writer’s world.