Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Monday, September 05, 2011

Codex to Kindle? Or not/

Just when I was deliberating whether to bite the bullet and modernize my reading medium from codex to Kindle, Lev Grossman  published the most delightful and informative article in the New York Times. This article traces the evolution of reading media from its earliest, the scroll, to the codex, and now the e-book.

Mr. Grossman posits that the e-book is not conducive to non-linear reading:

"We usually associate digital technology with nonlinearity, the forking paths that Web surfers beat through the Internet’s underbrush as they click from link to link. But e-books and nonlinearity don’t turn out to be very compatible. Trying to jump from place to place in a long document like a novel is painfully awkward on an e-reader, like trying to play the piano with numb fingers. You either creep through the book incrementally, page by page, or leap wildly from point to point and search term to search term. It’s no wonder that the rise of e-reading has revived two words for classical-era reading technologies: scroll and tablet. ... The codex is built for nonlinear reading — not the way a Web surfer does it, aimlessly questing from document to document, but the way a deep reader does it, navigating the network of internal connections that exists within a single rich document like a novel."

I'm not convinced that e-book reading is non-linear, but I'll let that stand. My reason for considering a Kindle has to do with weight and volume. I will be traveling a great deal in the next few months, and since I make my living writing and teaching, I need to bring a number of books with me wherever I go.

This means schlepping a) Chicago Manual of Style (3.4 pounds), Roget's Thesaurus (3.5 pounds), The Organization of Information (2 pounds) and a number of smaller books up to 20 pounds


purchasing a Kindle + electronic versions of the books I need to take.

The idea of reading on a Kindle rather turns me off, but the practicalities of it balance that out.

The likely bottom line: bedtime and pleasure reading remains analog; professional reading will go digital very soon.