When I was younger (so much younger than today) (name that tune!) I read books like crazy. My stack from the library was usually eight or ten books and I would devour them. I’d read while I was walking around the house, read at the table until someone told me not to, read in the car (I was lucky not to experience car-sickness), read in the bathroom, read in the bathtub, read while watching tv. I read mostly fiction, though I sometimes branched out into biographies and librettos.
Yes, I was a strange child. Thanks for noticing.
Not much has changed. I still read all the time, but the venue has changed. I am more apt to pick up my iPad and read blogs and facebook and twitter and flipboard and news than an actual book. When I do pick up a book, I find myself caressing it and reliving times curled up on the corner of the couch in my parents’ house and being eight years old again, and nine, and twelve. But I love my iPad to bits, even though I can’t read it in the bathtub.
One item I will not be able to embrace on the iPad, however, is the magazine. I absolutely enjoy magazines to the fullest. There’s something about the full-color, luxurious, image-rich heft of the publications that holds such promise. And I am not a flipper, either. I have to go page by page, savoring each delight that each page offers, from cleverly photographed advertisements to the saturated photos of the feature articles to the crisp font selected for titles and subtitles and headers and numbers and marginal notes. I even look at the masthead.
I don’t like it when an article is continued on another page. That forces me to look ahead to find that other page, and in the quest for the page numbers (and just where are they located? You can go for twenty pages and not see a page number anywhere!) I might catch a glimpse of something upcoming which would ruin it for me, just like reading the last page of a novel before you begin. I want a clear order of things. Don’t start something else while I’m absorbed in this article, for pete’s sake! I am committed to you and the subject you have written about, why send me off searching for something else in the midst of a good thing? If magazines knew how I felt, maybe they wouldn’t do that.
Yes, I do eat my meals one component at a time. And? Can you imagine the ruckus if I started with the chickeny goodness and abandoned it to wander over to the broccoli section? Not only would my taste buds be confused, but how do I continue? Do I go back to the chicken, ignoring the broccoli and allowing it to get cold? Do I finish the broccoli so I can return to the chicken, creating a sort of chicken-broccoli-chicken sandwich? Why am I talking about food?
The magazine on the iPad, however, is not luxurious or rife with possibilities. It is annoying. It’s the size of my iPad. That’s not magazine size. There’s no heft. It’s just like everything else. And it’s small. Yes, I am aware I can zoom the size (hey, look, zoom has become a verb!) but even then, I’m isolating a small part and not getting the scope of the full, artistically-designed page. I’m swiping to different sections, focusing on this part of the picture, that part of the paragraph, this caption, that quote, and the experience is lost. It is now work and is not enjoyable. Someone has taken my chicken and broccoli dinner and given it to me in a chewable pill form just to make it easier. My sensory pleasure is gone.
Oh, hey, that was deep. Sorry. Won’t happen again.
What is my point? My point is, I see no point to arguments of e-books vs. “the real thing.” As one whose house is awash in books and who mightily respects the written word (this blog notwithstanding) (did I use that phrase correctly?) I don’t think e-books and reading from electronic sources is going to do anything harmful to the written word. After all, it’s all communication, isn’t it?
And all this communication is a distraction from the real point, which is that I didn’t feel like walking today. I don’t feel like cleaning the kitchen either, but I’m pretty sure I can’t get away with both things.