Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times

Andrew Piper. Univ. of Chicago, $22.50 (200p) ISBN 978-0-226-66978-6
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This series of enlightening meditations on the experience and history of reading reveals what we are poised to gain and to lose with the advent of e-readers and related digital media. Written in thematic sections that take an almost phenomenological approach to the experience of reading, McGill University literature professor Piper (Dreaming in Books) examines the book’s privileged relationship with the hand and face, the ways in which eyes interact with page, the history of note taking, and the book’s particular amenability to being shared. Piper moves fluidly between our modes of interaction with codexes and electronic media, and avoids oversimplifications, nostalgia, or Ludditism. Often striking an audacious lyrical tone, he displays a remarkable sensitivity to the ways in which humans have historically talked about and understood reading. As such, Piper does a fine job of uncovering the metaphors on which the rationality and logic of reading rest. In addition, he includes reflections on his children, their approaches to the page and the computer, and what the future might hold for them. Though the writing occasionally becomes precious, and its ideas display more patience with linguistic experimentation in the digital realm than the everyday reader might reasonably have, the book is a fascinating glance at the page as it was, as it is, and as it might yet be. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Ebook - 207 pages - 978-0-226-92289-8
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-226-10348-8
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