Kindle and Writing Systems

TobitSeveral years ago, my publishing mentor from the early ‘80’s, Dave McGrath barraged me with emails and newspaper articles suggesting that I better “get with the program.  Books are out.  Kindle is in.”  In August 2010, I took the old Irishman’s advice.  I’m glad I did.  The ratio continues to increase, but to say that the Kindle electronic editions of my books outsell the physical books by at least 10 to 1 is not an exaggeration.

Still, I’m an old-fashioned sort when it comes to books.  I love the feel of a physical book… I love to turn physical pages… I love the way a book looks… I love bookcases… I love the smell of books.  Although all of my books are available on Kindle, I have not abandoned publishing physical books…. Yet.

Writing systems emerged during the Bronze Age [3500 BC – 1200 BC].  While writers ‘made marks’ on anything that could be marked or written upon, clay tablets were prevalent in the Middle East [the medium for cuneiforms] and papyrus was prevalent in Egypt.  Scrolls emerged in Egypt about 4500 years ago when Egyptians glued papyrus sheets together.

16th century Aubin codex

I often visualize readers during that three hundred year transition.  Guys like me would be saying, “I’ll never read a codex!  I love the feel, the look, the smell… of a scroll.”

Now here we are, 2,000 years after the codex system was introduced and we have a new writing system…. EBooks, digital books, whatever you might refer to them as, and it appears that digital formats will eclipsed the physical book format in well under 300 years!

I am one of the few people in my family and social circles who does not have a portable electronic book reader.  My wife has a Kindle, and I do see the value in it.  Beyond the initial investment, there are plenty of benefits of owning a Kindle or similar device.  While I do not have a portable Kindle, I do have a “Kindle for PC” reader.  I find it invaluable for research…

As an example, I can download Herodotus to my computer from Project Gutenberg for no charge.  As I read it, I can highlight text and insert bookmarks for quick and easy reference and review.  Yes, I have a copy of Herodotus on my bookcase, but as I research for a novel, the electronic format is easier to search, annotate and monitor than the physical book…. One man’s opinion.

I’ve included this link to download Kindle to your personal computer.  It’s free.  If you are like I am, you still want to hold the book, but I am certain you will find value with having the ability to read digital books on your PC.  

As Bob Dylan wrote in 1964, “The times, they are a changin’.”  I wonder if Dylan has a Kindle.

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