Reading about Electronic Books on Paper

Mitch Ratcliffe posted a status analysis on eBooks - The first step of a long change on his ZD Net column. I read most of it immediately after I received Mitch's email with the URL in the afternoon. We have been talking about eBooks longer than most people know they exist, so I owe him a response. I read the first seven comments on the ZD Net blog and started to ponder on the medium / technology / platform question as well as the longlevity of the printed word, commented on by a certain Yagotta B. Kidding (nomen est omen). Books had their long-term and short-term survival problems, mostly from fire and acid in the paper. Many books from the "modern phase" of the 70s when the IBM Selectric together with Copiers became the publishing technology of choice together with most of the stuff created on laser printers will be gone within 100 years. The glue that keeps the carbon particles of the Xerographic process on the paper lets go and the content falls off the page. Torah Scroll

Maybe eBooks are not books in a similar way Scrolls are not books as we know them today. Scrolls were abandoned over 1000 years ago as they were not practical to use and paper was hard to produce in long rolls. Also page consistency - the fact that a certain word is always on the same page to be read and remembered [add a reference to the ars memorativa here] - was not part of scrolls. Now we're back to scrolling, soft scrolling, fast scrolling and computer mice with one or more scroll wheels with click-wheel capabilities. Scolls have their place, today mostly in Schul, the Jewish Synagoge, as Sefer Torah, a copy of the Five Books of Moses created under extremely strict rules and written by hand.

eBooks have to repeat the same steps handwritten and printed books had to go through and get out of the early stage of scrolls. In 1989 when we started to work on the Expanded Books Project, page consitency as well as a means to help the reader understand where she is in the book were essential elements, They are still disregarded in today's eBook attempts.

With no way to take notes on the Web site and mark up passages, I gave in and printed Mitch's text to fully digest and respond.

Come back and read the next installment in the next few days. And definitely read Mitch's text.

Is there a Zamp in my Memory?

The evening ritual had settled in to first read Dr. Seuss: There's a Zamp in My Lamp while sitting on the bed so she could pull, rotate and wiggle all the different tabs in the book and then I would move to the leather chair to sit under the reading lamp and continue with my reading of Combray while she searches for the bist place and the best position to sleep, rolling around to feel the energy of the ever square inch, much in the way Castaneda describes it in the Teachings of Don Juan. Marcel Proust A la recherche du temps perdu

The German paperback edition I am reading is uttely disappointing in its print quality, yet she likes the three heavy volumes that give her a feeling of the 4194 pages (I am confident that we're through before she leaves for college, we have at least another 15 years to go) ahead of us.

While reading to her, I'm asking myself what the Proust's Narrateur would have thought of Dr. Seuss and if reading Cat in thew Hat or hat in the Cat would have releaved him from the terrible pain of going to bed. Did Seuss read Proust? The strange mixture of these orthogonal approaches to the ghosts that surround us, that are part of our house, our life creates an experience, a memory that may well be independent from the actual text by telling a story of movable paper tabs and a stream of vaguely comprehensible words in excessively long sentences. At 3 1/2 it is hard for her to explain why she likes Proust or Seuss but they are both important to us as a way to tell a new story.