Sorry, Kathryn, it’s all over…..

I love to leaf through the pages of a good book. Turn over a new leaf every now and then. Read a book from cover to cover and turn the corner down to mark my place. Kathryn Ryan on National’s Nine-to-Noon recently commented, in an interview, on “…that physical aspect [of books], the tactile aspect of paper and the page.” {English in Aotearoa, No. 63). She is a self-confessed book sniffer. (Aren’t we all, Kathryn?)

Well, sniff away while you can, Kathryn, because we may be about to reach the final chapter. The Amazon Kindle may well change the way we read and access books.

I’m already a fan of Google Books, have a wee virtual library of extracts and titles squirrelled away online for anywhere, anytime, anyplace reading. Browsing with my browser, so to speak. But I also adore my shelves of battered Penguins (the classics, dear literal reader, not RSPA cases) and well-thumbed noo-lit.

Can one ‘thumb’ a Kindle? Can I read it in the bath? Will it tolerate the sands of Fiji gumming up its nodes? And will it work in any airport while I wait for 24 hours for the flight that never arrives?

We may be in a world of technology-embracers but I wonder whether the death of the book will hit our luddite crumple-button?

And as for the classroom, will I have thirty Kindles stacked in the corner of my classroom (clearly an out-dated concept in itself) ready to download this lesson’s chapter of the extended text? Can we annotate our notes and save them for later revision?

‘Please, miss, can I borrow a Kindle to take home?’
‘He won’t share his Kindle, sir’.
‘Sorry, but I haven’t read it yet…my Kindle’s still downloading’.
‘Look, miss, I’ve found something better to read..Yes, I AM over 18..’.

Whoops, just caught myself there yearning for the days when I received my year’s texts and would look down the list of names of girls who’d been there before. Reading Austen’s ‘Emma’, revising it, then handing it back to the teacher at the end of the year….ah, yes,there goes my crumple button…

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