Saturday, July 14, 2012

I was really getting into my novel when...

          “I was really getting into my novel when I saw I had a message from Socrates on facebook.”  Before  I clicked on the little icon on the bottom of my screen I got to thinking, why did I buy an e-reader that is also a web platform?   It’s pretty distracting.  Multitasking is supposed to be bad for us, at least according to a lot of new studies on human cognition.  Why did I buy an e-reader at all?  There is something to be said for losing oneself in bound, foliated wood pulp.  Some people argue e-books will ultimately relegate traditional books to being niche items, sort of like vinyl records are today.    
          I’m not convinced…
          Future predictions are usually notoriously off kilter.  When television came along, movies and radio were supposed to go by the wayside, and both media are fine and well today.  When computers were adopted we heard predictions of a paperless society, when in fact the use of paper quadrupled.  In the same vein, robots were slated to take over all of the menial tasks that debased the human condition.   And then there were all of the predictions of a 21st century world run by fusion energy and airborne cars dotting the skies around cities like lines of flying ants. 
          On the other hand, occasionally futurists get it right, and it just may be that paper books will be relegated to being novelty items.   
          What’s ironic is that over two thousand years ago, Socrates, one of the West’s greatest and most revered intellectuals, was disturbed by books.  He thought books were static things, not able to interact as human beings do, and that made them so inferior as to be a detriment to thinking and learning.  Considering the intellectual history of the last millennia I think he may have been wrong.  Although I wonder, if Socrates was around right now he might happily be reading a treatise on an ipad, from time to time checking things on google, and perhaps texting me about a good place to get falafel sandwich. 


  1. The whole multi-use thing is why I got a dedicated ereader not an iPad. My husband offered to get me one, but was right about me not wanting to check email while I was reading.

    Ebooks...I hated the idea of them until I got an ereader. Now I prefer them to DTB's. But until they figure out a way to sell used ebooks, I'm always going to get used books. I must buy at least 100 or so used books a year. I think that "real" books will hang on in Europe for a while- most people who live in Europe seem to say that in between that taxes and the cost, ebooks don't seem worth the price. (I think they charge VAT on ebooks in England, but not on regular books) But my sons prefer ebooks and would prefer reading on even a computer screen to reading an ebook.

    Thanks for following my blog. I think we found each others blog on the Blogger Lift group on GR.

    1. I am co-owner of a store called Artfunkle which sells used books, so I'm happy to hear you enjoy used books. My wife reads on a kindle more than the rest of us. In fact, my soon to be 14yr old son prefers paperbacks.

      Thank you as well for following mine and I think you're right that we found each other on GR.

  2. Hi Joe,
    I think that if Socrate was able to wake up in the 21th century, he will have an heart attack not only about books and the internet but essentially about our evolution...and our way of consummating.

    I agree with 365 books a year, in Europe, books will still be incontournable for a long time. And look at the vinyle, they have a second youth right now. The CD industry is suffering but the vinyle are doing great.
    As for the e-reader, I admit that I've succombed and that I like my Kindle. But I still buy my books. I like used ones too and I will never stop buying books. How could you relax in a comfy place, if there is only virtual books ?

    Thanks for stopping by my blog,

    1. Hi Lucie, You're probably right about Socrates having a fit about our age. I think what would shock the ancients most about our times is our hyper consumerism and the vast material possessions we have in comparison. I lived in a mountain village in the Andes and had a real culture shock coming back to the states. The first-world, Western lifestyles is really quite unique in the amount of possessions each person owns.

      I like e books as well but like you love to find a comfy spot and feel a real book in my hands once in a while.

      Thanks for stopping by mine as well.

  3. LOL this was a fun little read, i smiled through the whole thing. Well said, well written!
    new follower!

  4. Thanks ShadyLane, I'm following you as well. I read a little bit of your work and you have a nice writing style.

  5. I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Find out more here!

  6. Thanks Hale, I will check it out.

  7. Hi, I found you on GR, I am a Lift your blog member. I am your new buddy, here is mine,

  8. Hi Joe, never knew this about Socrates -it's rather like an old ancient belief that books were evil and should be banished from society. Comical in effect.
    I resisted the urge to get a Kindle -received one finally as a birthday gift -not that it had to be a Kindle. However, I'm loving the fact that books can be almost instantly downloaded but it still makes me feel guilty. That said, there's still something precious and wonderful in having good old solid books. I love the look of my books on the bookcases and I'll never part with any of them. (now time for my Gollum moment, 'I've got you, precious ...')

  9. There will always be something special about solid books, but e readers are here to stay and they do have their benefits. I also resisted using a kindle at first, but I'm glad I do now. Well, to be honest, I just borrow my wife's but I'll probably get my own soon.