The Web of Language

blog navigation

Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news

blog posts

  • The book, the scroll, and the web


Comments Apr 1, 2010 1:45 pm

One of the interesting things Ive noticed is how corporate marketing departments cannot communicate fast enough to their ground-level troops on what their strategy is for iPad eBooks. At a national conference recently, I briefly spoke with a rep about the iPad, their eBooks for the device, and the companys You Tube video. Ironincally, the rep had not seen the video, although it had been making the rounds on the Internet for several weeks beforehand. Beyond the bells, whistles, and whether or not to put in the hands of a toddler, the iPad seems willing and able to combine the characteristics of a book with the interactivity of social networking and hand-held gaming. Will this kill the digital codex? I dont think so; to me it is easier to read a New York Times article on one long page than clicking several page links. Will the iPad (such a sorry name) encourage more people to read? Only if they can afford it and if they dont wish to broadcast to others what they are reading. Only if readers won't have such commodities yanked from their "hands" due to whatever reason the company wishes to use. Interestingly, there have been a couple of articles on the effect of reading from a visually private device versus the effect of random acts of advertising/showing off reading material as communicated with the visual of a tree book (urban dictionary this week) read in public places. As for me, I'll bite when the 2nd generation arrives or when I can convince my father to try it out as an alternative reading device for his remaining eyesight. rhea drapes

Reply to at 1:45 pm Apr 1, 2010 1:52 pm

I think the book still has the upper hand when it comes to "browsability" (Nicholson Baker's term in a New Yorker article last year about the Kindle). You can flip pages with much more ease and come back to where you were reading. This is just too difficult to replicate with electronic readers, even when they have special effects for turning pages. Things like how far into a book a passage was, or on what part of the page a sentence was found, make browsing very effective in the codex format. Of course, when you know exactly what you're looking for, there's no beating word search. Hence, having a book format to read, and an electronic format to store and come back to when searching for specific quotes, strikes me as the ideal right now. With regard to cognitive differences, I agree that the habit of book-reading skews studies. There was an interesting discussion on a NYT forum a few months ago:

Reply to at 1:52 pm