Saturday, December 5, 2009

John Hancock and The Kindle

Who can forget the elegant penmanship of John Hancock, as evidenced by his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence?

The art of calligraphy has gone the way of the windmill, except for a few formal invitations one might receive each year. Kids graduating college can hardly write. I know my own printing and cursive skills have deteriorated to mere chicken scratches to make room for the keyboard.

A good friend, the director of the music department at the University of Arizona, equates the loss to something like our children growing up in a world changed from analog to digital sound. Many will never hear a ‘real’ note played.

And reading? Librarians confirm that fewer and fewer children are checking out books. The publishing industry has been snubbing and resisting the inevitable, kicking and screaming all the way into their own red books. And the debate is a worthy one. The Kindle and its relatives are certainly more inviting when it comes time to move your 1,500 book library. And you don’t have to run out in the morning rain to pick up your soggy paper. You can instantly look up words, translate paragraphs, and highlight. Heck, now you don’t even have to read your books. They’ll read to you.

The argument? Let’s talk about the senses.

Olfactory comes to mind first. We won’t smell the rich tang of leather and yellowed papers in an electronic reader library.

Moving on to vision. They say the new generations offer glare-free viewing. Outside, in the desert or with blinding sun on snow? [Although everyone can agree the optional enlarged print is nifty if you’re fifty!]

Touch is easy. If we argue that lighter is better come moving day, what about weight being better, just because? The feel of that leather, and the sometimes crimping binding. Soft gilded or sawn edges of the pages. Dog ears. REAL dog ears that pop up.

I’ve mentioned you can have your books and newspapers read to you, so will young parents drop their Kindles off at their toddler’s bedside to read them a story?

Next comes taste. And I guess it really is a matter of just that. Where would John Hancock stand?

Gotta go. I’m running low on batteries. Is that a problem, anyone?

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