Sunday Book-Thought 25

Ease of use is only one measure of a writing technology. The great advantage of the first printed books was not that you could read them in bed. Gutenberg right well have been appalled at the thought of someone taking his beautiful folio-sized Bible to bed. For generations, most important printed books remained imposing volumes that had to be read on bookstands, so that people often read (and wrote) standing up. Mass production by printing did eventually make books cheaper and more plentiful, and this change was important. However, the fixity and permanence that printing gave to the written word were just as important in changing the nature of literacy. The book in whatever form is an intellectual tool rather than a means of relaxation. If the tool is powerful, writers and readers will put up with inconveniences to use it.
Jay David Bolter

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