I have always felt bothered by e-books. As an engineer and a technologist, as someone who owns a Google Home and studies computer science and knows how to solder, I should love e-books. But as a writer and a poet I kind of hate them.
I like the idea of e-books. I like the idea of not lugging around a huge novel. I like the idea of sharing a virtual library with my father, who does love e-books. I like the idea of having the definition of a word at the touch of my fingertip. I like the idea of minimizing my physical footprint.
. . . .
But I don’t like my inability to flip through the pages. The percentage-done indicator stresses me out, but when I turn it off I wonder how far along I am. I once bought Mark Strand’s Collected Poems to read on my Kindle while traveling and it was a terrible, empty experience.
. . . .
As writing was invented, we co-opted processes and places already in the brain to deal with these new and intricate symbols that, tied together, could create great and varied meaning. Our brains improvised: we used regions of the brain dedicated to spoken language, motor coordination, and visual object identification to read words on a page. The brain learned to treat words not as strings of symbols but as physical objects in space.
This explains why I can remember exactly where on a page I read something, even if I don’t remember what exactly I read.
Link to the rest at Medium