Sacrosanct? Or Not?

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I appreciate the claims Watchell makes with regards to whether or not the book as a tangible entity is sacrosanct or not. Specifically, lets think about the illustration he gives when saying, "And that is why the current attempt to hold a mirror up to the mouth of the book-publishing industry to see if it is still breathing strikes me as misguided... we do not need books. We need lofty ideas". He claims that civil society is not obsessed "lovely-to-hold" objects, which I agree with, knowing that the majority of those who can afford it choose to purchase an ebook of some sort but I'd also like to touch on the fact that there are still a great amount of individuals fearful of the transition from paper to LED (or whatever said ebook demands) screen. What those others must acknowledge is that the content is valued, it hold greater importance than the way we are accessing it. The vehicle, innovative and all, is a blessing in the sense that it gives us a new way, a more forward thinking way, of learning material. Nonetheless, no matter how lengthy such text is, it took time, effort, and multiple edits between writer and editor to get to press so why does it matter how we access the information. To me, what seems to gain agency in this conversation is what the reader accesses. These lofty ideas are too precious to our culture and intellect to lose. Watchell exemplifies this importance when claiming, " Lofty ideas are slow media. They require intensive labor and time,
and they are expensive. But they provide the intellectual scaffolding for our national discourse, and are at the heart of our cultural well- being".

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Comments

Lofty Ideas

I agree with both you and Watchell, in that the physical book isn't as important as the ideas contained within. I think that the people concerned for the future of books are focusing on the wrong thing; books will still exist even if they are no longer printed on paper. It's the lofty ideas, as you said, that are the important part. It's when those lofty ideas are put in jeopardy that we should be concerned.

Let's be honest, there is

Let's be honest, there is definitely still virtue in hard-copy texts, but the digital age is one that gives us all opportunities to experience books in new ways. I mean, imagine an x-class solar flare hitting the earth on the appropriate date in the Mayan calendar, thus knocking all electronic device offline worldwide, wouldn't you like a nice hardcover edition of War and Peace to read by candlelight while whittling away the hours, days, months, or years until the lights come back on....

Ok, this might be a little far fetched, or maybe not. When the Alexandrian libraries were destroyed by the Egyptians, untold volumes were lost to the chaos of human action, and maybe, just maybe, there was some old, embittered Greek master sitting around wishing there were some machine that could have backed up all that information. The point is, when lofty ideas are as important as they are, shouldn't we have as many forms of them as possible to prevent their loss in the event of a neo-Alexandrian library burning

Slow Media

...First of all: "intellectual scaffolding," what a great phrase, Caroline! I like that a lot. Second of all, I agree with you and Watchell. It doesn't really matter in what medium we read something as long as that something is worth reading. Lofty ideas are important and consequently take time to read and digest. One of the only things that makes pairing lofty ideas with e-books odd is the fact that we associate technology, especially computers and other handheld devices with speed. Chelsie even mentioned in class how the new Mac computer can open every application on it faster than she open just one on her current computer. I think a lot of the backlash against e-readers might be because we associate iPads, etc. with doing things quickly while quality books containing lofty ideas are "slow media" that take time to produce and time to process. We just haven't learned yet that we can read slow media via a fast medium.

Not Sacrosanct

Physical books are not too valuable to get rid of, but I do believe that there is still a very personal and familiar relationship with traditional paper books. I agree with you assessment of certain people's fear of transition to ebooks. However, I don't think that such a transition will have an adverse affect on the writing and editing process.