I was pondering the other day the value of e-books as all 1691 grams (about 3 3/4 pounds) of Stephen King’s Under the Dome pressed heavily upon my chest in bed.
Those familiar with Mortimer Adler (How to Read a Book) will know that reading while reclined breaks one of Professor Adler’s fundamental rules of reading. Those familiar with Stephen King will know that his aren’t the kinds of books that Professor Adler was concerned about me learning to read, so that’s all good.
I was mulling over, then, the fact that e-books have NOT created an environment which allows me easily to mark, star, underline, highlight, annotate or otherwise react to what I’m reading. With this, Professor Adler would agree:
“Reading a book should be a conversation between you and the author. Presumably he knows more about the subject than you do; if not, you probably should not be bothering with his book. But understanding is a two-way operation; the learner has to question himself and question the teacher. He even has to be willing to argue with the teacher, once he understands what the teacher is saying. Marking a book is literally an expression of your differences or your agreements with the author. It is the highest respect you can pay him.” (page 49)
Many books elicit a response from me that demands I mark. And an e-book does not make that easy. Kevin Charles Redmon agrees:
At present, annotating an e-book with a stylus is about as handy as marking up a Norton anthology with a Crayola. The amount of clicking required to two-finger type a note using the Kindle’s mini keyboard is even worse.
King and Kindle I think would make a match that even Professor Adler could endorse. (The Kindle App fully loaded with books I don’t think adds much to the basic 140 grams of my iPhone.)
But for most everything else, I’m sticking with a paper book and a pencil.
And a soft couch.