Thursday, December 31, 2009

How E-Books Will Change Reading And Writing

I would have titled this "How E-Books Might Change Reading & Writing". Mainly because I don't think you could have looked at the early output of Gutenberg's presses (Bibles, indulgences and religious tracts) and seen an accurate view of what would be happening once writers stopped playing with the new toy and really started to create. Of course in that time, artists labored in relative isolation, without a mass media culture to feed them lines. For better or worse, it took almost three hundred years for the presses to move from what they began doing (religious works) to printing the endless Do it Yourself books of the Elizabethan era (yes, really) and eventually the surrealist adventures of Gargantua and Pantagruel, Machiavelli's political advice column and eventually the exploits of Don Quixote and the printing of the Shakespearean canon. Even though we will undoubtedly move the same relative distance a hundred times as quickly as the renaissance writers did, I sincerely doubt we're out of the early stages of curiousity and exploration that meet a new medium. And I'm not sure anyone can say with any assurance that we've achieved any level of sophistication or seen more than the leading edge of what e-Books will really mean for the writer and the reader... not to mention their medium.

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Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).