Reading the future?

Quick link to a piece in Saturday’s Australian speculating about ebooks from an Australian angle. Seems to leave out more than it includes, and gestures towards a kind of media specificity argument which suggests that the novel will have to change just because the technology of delivery does as well. It quotes Sven Birkerts:

According to Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, what we need to consider goes far beyond convenient gadgets. If we replace print with screen-based text, “we will not simply have replaced one delivery system with another”, Birkerts wrote recently in US magazine The Atlantic. “We will also have modified our imagination of history, our understanding of the causal and associative relationships of ideas and their creators.”

Gotta disagree. My position is that there will be new forms but they will displace not replace existing ones – just as we watch movies on the big screen as well as on our ipods, so we will read novels in different ways.


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