It’s a Jeep thing (*thwack*)

I know the librarian glasses thing is getting tired I couldn't think of anything else.Here are Book Riot’s Ten Commandments of a Righteous Readerly Life. And here is my favourite:

4. The medium is not the message.

Marshall of McLuhan art a fly dude, but in this case he was wrongeth. Thou art not a more righteous reader for holding slavishly to paper. Are commandments on stone tablets more legit than those read on thy iPad? Answer not that rhetorical question. Judge not the method of literary transmission; rejoice instead in the love of literature.

Yay! This really sums it up for me. I’ve tried to articulate how much it bothers me when people do that but this says more in fewer (and amusingly affected) words. Many people do seem awfully righteous, not to mention starry-eyed, when they talk about print books: the smell, the feel of the book in their hands, the luscious paper, the gorgeous typography. And the look they give you when you try to defend ebooks reminds me of those “It’s a Jeep thing; you wouldn’t understand” bumper stickers. Grr.

(Actually, I can’t fault them for loving the typography. When I taught students about producing books I stressed its importance; to me the best medium is a transparent one and that can’t not apply to ebooks, despite how much control readers now have over font, point size, leading, margins, and so on. Many typesetters now design ebooks, as well, and the good ones really impress me.)

Ebooks are an alternate format. An additional format. Not a replacement; not a sign of the literary apocalypse. Done well (the writing and the design), and with a reasonable number of square inches to work with on the screen, fine literature will shine (or e-ink) through; the ebook reader won’t detract from the reading experience. At least not to the degree that the righteous Pollyannas would have you think. Just rejoice in the love of literature, irrespective of medium. Verily.


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