Friday, January 13, 2012

What Is Reality?

This video is making the rounds, and I liked watching it too ... until the very end.

A "Real Book" is not an object made of paper, ink, and cardboard. I love those objects, and I have thousands of them, okay? I read them, too, promiscuously. I don't own an e-book reader, and don't know when or if I will. (I've tried reading books on my laptop, and it doesn't work well for me.)

A book is this mystical thing that is bigger on the inside than on the outside: it can be stored on paper, parchment, or electrons; read aloud and stored on audio media; memorized (admittedly this is rare) and stored in a human being's head. An e-book on a Kindle, Nook, or other reading device is a real book, because all books are virtual. (The same is true of music: a written score isn't the music, any more than an analog or digital recording is.)

As long as people are reading, in whatever format or medium, I'll be happy. I don't see any reason to believe they'll stop soon, contrary to the alarmists and the triumphalists. Reading has survived the movies and television, and I think the Internet has increased the reading (and writing) most users do.

I love brick-and-mortar bookstores, but I also know that they are a relatively recent phenomenon historically. I'd like them to stick around for a long time, but even if they do, they're going to change. I'm don't think change is always good, but it always happens, for better or worse. Reading, however, will be with us in one form or another for a good long time.