Different Strokes for Different Circumstances

by Sep 5, 2011Books, Tech

Lev Grossman in the NY Times:

The codex isn’t just another format, it’s the one for which the novel is optimized. The contemporary novel’s dense, layered language took root and grew in the codex, and it demands the kind of navigation that only the codex provides. Imagine trying to negotiate the nested, echoing labyrinth of David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” if it were transcribed onto a scroll. It couldn’t be done.

I think our way out of the sometimes bitter paper vs. e-books debate is to recognize that some kinds of reading are great on a Kindle, some are best in a codex. Some are fine for the computer screen; others fare better on an iPad.

The harder something is to read, the less likely my Kindle is to be a good place to read it (price still sometimes decides in favor of the Kindle, however: that’s reality). The shorter something is, the more likely I can take it on a computer screen. In between—newspaper articles, longer blog posts—I can go either way, but I prefer the Kindle for things I don’t need to “act on” right away. Through Instapaper I can easily transfer articles from laptop to Kindle.

I think we’ll get used to these reading options.

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