natural signs

In an earlier post I linked to this excerpt from Albert Borgmann’s extraordinary book Holding On To Reality, and I want to invoke Borgmann again now. One of the key concerns of that book is to separate and classify the kinds of . . . well, reading is what I would say — the kinds of reading we do. But Borgmann would probably say that...

book buying

David Streitfeld has a curious essay in the NYT about bad times for the publishing industry — publishers not buying new books, bookstores closing — and his preferred explanation for the troubles: Don’t blame this carnage on the recession or any of the usual suspects, including increased competition for the reader’s time or...

fast-twitch and slow-twitch

Okay, so in an earlier post I argued that we live in an Age of Reading, an age in which more people than ever before are reading various kinds of signs (many of them textual) all the time. I also acknowledged that these forms of reading are quite various — but they also do have certain traits in common, primarily the physical act of...

a Christmas Eve thought

From G. K. Chesterton: There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes, as I am doing in this article. It is the very essence of a festival that it breaks upon one brilliantly and abruptly, that at one moment the great day is not and the next moment the great day is. Up to a certain...

scrolls and codexes

Several commentators — and by the way, I am thrilled by the quality of comments this blog has received in its short life — several commentators have asked how the issues I’ve raised so far affect one kind of reading in particular: reading of the Bible. Ten years ago — Lord have mercy, has it really been ten years? — I wrote an...

the age of reading

In January of 2008 Steve Jobs, the head of Apple Computer, was interviewed by reporters from the New York Times, and while Jobs was primarily interested in celebrating Apple’s newest products, he was willing to announce his views on other matters as well. For instance, on the Kindle: “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product...

empty books

Sam Kean on a visit to a shop in Venice: I approached the owner and asked about the shelves of leather-bound books. Though all of them (the books) were blank, they looked like the sort of gilt-edged, feathery-papered volumes that populate the wet dreams of every bibliophile. “Do you make all these yourself?” I asked. He answered that...

2008: the year the e-book caught on?

Gregory Cowles: Whatever else it’s remembered for in the publishing industry, 2008 may be remembered as the year that e-books finally caught on. Kindles are a regular sight on my train these days, and seem likely to become as ubiquitous as iPods: due to unexpected demand (or shrewd marketing?) Amazon sold out well before the holidays...

form and content

Jeremy C writes below, “Doesn’t having a uniform page layout for all the books on the device focus your attention, not on the layout/design, but on the content?” Great question. I think the answer depends on how we make the distinction between form or presentation and content. It has become fashionable in some circles to deny the...