Codicology

03 Apr 2012

Khoi Vinh:

It would be nice if there was a way to replicate that part of the reading experience electronically too, that kind of real world happenstance that doesn’t require signing up or signing in to anything, just carrying around whatever book you’re reading and being open enough in your body language to welcome small talk from perfect strangers

I do not advocate that we throw away our iPhones in favor of smoke signals or give up our Kindles because they are not perfect replications. At the same time, I worry any time that we march head first towards a new device; it is not enough to be satisfied with our gains, we also have to be aware of what gets left behind when our technologies transform. We are altered as much by changes in our tools as they are altered by us. This is the way of the world, but it is important that we ask ourselves whether our tools are worth their costs and, if not, how we can regain that which has been taken away.

I want to carry my library in my pocket not in a moving van. I want to fall in love with the Kindle. I want to favor the ease of the electronic over the cumbrance of ink and paper. I want to give up my dog ears in favor of bookmarks and my scrawled thoughts for simulated sticky notes. I want people to see the books that I am reading and for it to make them think, good or ill. I want to be able to share my experience of a story by showing off a well worn novel. I want people to see my “extras” shelf which is a collection of books meant to be given away at idle interest, because that is how important they are to me.

eBooks are not there yet. I have little doubt that, one day, they will be. But until then, I will stick to my recto and verso.