Reading

By making books commodities, the modern market has stripped them of much of their romantic charm. I like the smell of a moldy book as much as the next bibliophile, but not as much as I once did. And while I’ve yet to purchase a Kindle or iPad, which make buying books in a store or online seem like hard work, I keep some titles on my netbook and iPod and can see myself making a fuller transition to e-books. And as I do, I’ll become even less romantic about books—just as I became progressively less romantic about music as my collection has shifted from vinyl to CDs to mp3s. Holding an LP cover or even a CD jacket used to anchor the listener to something corporeal. But not anymore. The same is happening to books. The ancient ceremony of reading by turning its pages being disrupted by the e-book’s clicks and swipes. In the process it distances us from the old magic conjured by books. Books are being replaced by reading.

Jack Shafer

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