October 12, 2006


Techno-Books

Okay, geek talk for awhile.

I don't know about you, but I absolutely loathe the idea of books being tranferred to computers. As much as I like to access news and magazines on line, a book is whole different animal.

Today's NYT carries this article about Sony's latest venture into the world of e-books. They've apparently invented a pretty good little machine that you download a book into, and then carry around and read.

I dunno.

Books are magic. I crave books. I collect them, I re-read them, I give them away, I loan them out, I covet them. They are pretty much my only purchase weak-spot, now that I've given up on shoes. My boys know I will never say no to buying books.

This new technology allows you to 'carry' tons of books with you, all conveniently stored into something the size of one. Any book freak who has ever moved knows the hellish nightmare of packing, and lifting, box after box of books. Friends of mine actually left hundreds of tomes behind when they left New York City- they couldn't afford to ship them.

So there's that. But you also can't lend or give a book to someone after you've read it. When I pass on a beloved book, it's like a little piece of me goes with it. When I look at all the books tumbling down on my bookcases, I can trace all the patterns of my life, from enforced university reading to eras devoted to odd forays into everything from understanding death to Leonardo Da Vinci. These books hold out memories to me like stems of flowers, making up some messy, crazy, always-fragrant bouquet.

So, I still dunno. If Sony wants to shoot a little machine over to me, I'll test drive it for them. But we'll have to see how good this thing does when it gets dunked in the lake at the cottage by mistake, or covered in tears when a book just gets me in the gut.

You can't just break it down to the words. If that were true, all books would feel the same. And we all know they don't.

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