Monday, October 10

Ebook: A book with no body?

Have you seen those old and marvelously cheesy sci-fi movies where someone is disassembled, digitized, and lives -- non-corporeally -- in a computer?
The other day I was musing that this is what has happened to the book.

Originally stories were written in pictures on walls, then on scrolls and, later still, the codex was developed. Stories were embodied in various physical mediums over the years and each new embodiment was considered a technological innovation.

Enter the ebook. With the advent of electronic books, the story has shed its physical, corporeal, form. Physical pulp and paper books have a shelf life and the story they contain has to be copied over to a new book, a laborious process, one that conjures up images of monks stooped over velum, quill in hand, painstakingly scribing words, sentences, into a new volume. Now the process is instantaneous and costs practically nothing.

It is an interesting thing to think about; at least for myself. But, then, I'm strange. ;)

For more weird and wonderful musings, check out Lev Grossman's article in The New York Times, From Scroll to Screen. (Thanks to Bob Mayer, and a comment he made on Kris Rusch's post, for the link.)

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