Reading and e-books
I haven't made up my mind to actually spend money on one, but I am fascinated by e-book readers like the one from Sony. Just throw it in my backpack and - 160 books on tap. Of course, I don't go backpacking, but you get the idea.
Today the Wall Street Journal has a rather snide, though interesting, article by Daniel Henninger about the new Amazon Kindle. He seems to find this ironic:
It was hard not to notice that Kindle was born unto us about the same moment the National Endowment for the Arts released a report on reading's sad lot in our time. Amid much other horrifying data, it revealed that the average 15- to 24-year-old spends seven minutes daily on "voluntary" reading. Cheerfully, this number rises to 10 minutes on weekends.
He professes to be alarmed:
The NEA authors posit "greater academic, professional and civic benefits" with high levels of leisure reading. In other words, readers profit, at least in their souls, from time spent with works of the imagination or with books that explain the past. I agree.
Though he seems to be a bit ironic about this. After a tough day trying to discuss a book I assigned to class on Genghis Khan, I take the report at face value. We are in effect watching the demise of a literate culture based on a common data base encoded in literature and history. His following observation I do not find encouraging.
One criticism of the NEA studies is that they don't capture the "new" ways people read away from work. This means the Endowment doesn't validate new pastimes, such as reading text messages on cell-phone screens. Add the input-output of text messaging to the data base of readers and the daily voluntary reading time likely rises from seven minutes to six or seven hours.
Anybody want to read 900 pages of, say, War and Peace, as written in text message English?