Hmmm, I am getting the not-so-subtle vibe that Darnton is not a fan of digitized books. If I was supposed to pick up on this before, I appologize. I'm a slow analyzer. There are two different instances that Darnton refers to Gutenberg's invention of the press and modernization of the book.
"I love books, old-fashioned books, the older the better. As I see it, book culture reached its highest peak when Gutenberg modernized the codex; and the codex is superior in some way to the computer. You can leaf through it, annotate it, take it to bed, and store it ocmveniently on a shelf" (60).
His description of the physicality of books is what he admires. He enjoys the fact that it, unlike a digitized book, is visible and can be handled. He can mark in it, draw doodles on the cover. He can literally "cut & paste" words and letters if he wants to. A digital book, not so much without a few alterations (like digitally copy and pasting...much simpler...if you would even want to do that to a book...).
At the very end of Chapter 4, he says, "...the electronic book, which will act as a suplement to, not a substitute for Gutenber's great machine" (77). The man loves his book, but again, he is attached to the physicality of the book. I don't blame him and I do agree with him, but he doesn't seem to have a strong argument about the digital accessible information. The information is going to be the same, in text or on a computer. The words will all be the same and the context and how you take the meaning will all be the same.
Perhaps Darnton is unwilling to admit that he is addicted to the smell of books just like in his comical example of French students.
"According to a recent survey of French students, 43% consider smell to be one of the most important qualities of printed books--so important that they resist buying odorless electronic books. CafeScribe, a French online publisher, is trying to counteract tat reaction by giving its customers a sticker that will give off a fusty, bookish smell when it is attached to their computers" (39).
This made me laugh. It is very interesting to visualize people sniffing books. We all have done it, but to think that people need to read the physical book in their hands just to smell the pages. At first I thought, that might be pushing it. Then I reconsidered. People really do enjoy the smell of books or they are afraid of the transition into the digital world. They used to have a physical book and its perks still outweigh a digital books' perks. They don't want to lose what they have always known. Quite a simple psychological assumption, but that is what I am getting out of it.
I would rather turn a page too than scroll down on a computer screen, but I wouldn't say that it is because I want to catch a whiff of musty paper while reading. I think this weird book-sniffing is about value as well. I remember Shellie talking in class about how she does not like marking up books, but does not mind scribbling on a computer print out.
Although Darnton clearly is a fan of original books and not afraid to admit it, he is willing to accept the change of technology. He knows that not everyone is excited about the rising of digital texts but with a look at history, we always progress no matter what comes along. He said, 'Through trial and error, we must inch forward toward the creation of a national and the an international digital library" (57). The scaredy-cats who aren't moving will have to. He is pretty optimistic about the idea, because it's inevitable although he wish it wouldn't happen.
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