While I'm still thinking through NOW Reading (and perhaps crafting a more measured, less "I've had no sleep so let's just blog it and post it, follow-up post), I was pleased to read Darby's comment as well as Mark O'Connell's "The Kindle and the Inner Conflict Between Consumer and Booklover" piece at The Millions as I believe they are all valid points in the conversation I had hoped to revisit.
Of note, while I still mull it all over:
"My point is that I, like a lot of other people, enjoy books as objects. Despite the difficulties that can arise from their accumulation, I like that they occupy physical as well as mental space. In fact, I quietly entertained the futile hope that the whole idea of e-books and e-readers would prove to be a transitory fad, that everyone would just somehow forget that books were cumbersome and comparatively expensive to produce and not especially good for the environment and that they could very easily be replaced by small clusters of electronic data that could be beamed across the world in seconds without ever taking up any actual space."
"So I did the obvious thing, and decided to see whether I could download The Instructions from the Kindle Store. When I found that the e-book version wasn’t yet available, I was briefly seized by that most contemporary (and stupid) of irritations: that of being denied a convenience that didn’t even exist until very recently. Granted, Levin’s novel is an extreme example, but it got me thinking about the unassuageable forces that the book as an object, as a cultural artifact, is up against. The history of what we call progress is a catalogue of ways in which the desire for convenience has trumped almost every other concern."
While I could obviously take from this that my own NOW Reading irritation was a "most contemporary (and stupid) of irritations" I will choose instead to take comfort in the fact that yet another reader is struggling similarly, albeit with a slightly different twist.
I will also say that I purposely bought The Instructions in print form (as I do most chunky novels) because I feel that when the writer has written something hefty and you should literally bear the weight of such heft throughout your reading process. Whether the words and ideas and story rise to meet such physical heft is another matter entirely. For the record, I dragged the weight (physical and otherwise) of The Instructions through seven airports and had to answer numerous questions about what could possibly be contained in such a big red book. I even, on two occasions, had to state plainly that no, it was not The Bible. But lugging around a big book is my own affectation, one that may fall by the wayside should I purchase the next chunky novel in a digital format instead.
I am a lover of print. I am a lover of font. I am a lover of how a font smells printed on the page. I, too, open a book and smell it first. Yes, still. I am a lover of all that the books-as-physical-objects folks hold dear. I hold them dear too. Yet if a younger generation won't ever love what we love, but will read far more in a format they do love, who are we to stick our noses in the air or the proverbial sand? A story is a story is a story no matter what it's written on.