Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Nope, the printed word's not doomed
Technology is terrific, isn’t it? At least when it works.
I don’t have much time to read these days, at least not the “sitting down and turning the pages of a book” kind of reading. That’s hard for a girl like me, who used to scarf down three or four or even five books a week back when life was saner.
As a kid, I’d always read at least two books at a time – that way, if Mama confiscated one book when she caught me reading instead of doing my chores, then I’d have a back-up. I also learned, by sheer necessity, that if I were going to read at my house, I needed to speed read.
But even speed readers need time to finish a book. Way back when my to-do list started pushing my reading time out the window, I realized that I was cranky and grouchy and just plain hard to live with when I didn’t ingest the printed word.
So I picked up an audio book from the library to listen to in my car. Back then, the books were on cassette tapes (yes, I do realize that tells you that I am old enough to have driven a car with a cassette tape deck.) It took me a little while to get used to the weird transition of having someone read to you – it’s not as passive as TV, but I did miss the interaction with the printed word.
But at least I was “reading” after a sort, and doing it during a time when I wasn’t accomplishing much else. I hung on through bad narrators and shredded tapes, because at last I was getting my “fix.”
Fast-forward through CDs – much better than cassette tapes – and onto to the lovely, lovely leap of an iPod and free downloads from the library. No more CDs to worry about, no more having to leave the story’s characters hanging off a cliff – now I could just unhook my iPod and take it in with me, to listen to while I folded clothes or cooked supper or vacuumed. (Ha, you say, that’s a lie, because we know you hate to vacuum.)
I’d noticed though that sometimes in the downloading, though, that the last little bit of a chapter would get chopped off. No problem. I could usually figure out the last little bit as I listened to the first part of the next chapter.
But then I outlasted my odds. I came to the end of a book, and bam! The last little bit, when I was supposed to find out whether the guy was going to get the girl, it was all gone.
That just about drove me crazy. Still, I can’t knock the fact that I’ve gotten loads of good books – complete books with no glitches – downloaded from the library. I guess, though, that tells me that the printed book will never die, as at least it doesn’t require batteries and the page isn’t dependent on kilobytes cooperating.