The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

By now, many of you have likely read this piece by Craig Mod for Aeon. He talks about how he jumped on to the Kindle train early on, only to see his reading habits shift back to print. Both options have their advantages and Craig gives a good overview of both.

The Kindle, or more truthfully, Amazon, brought easy access:

During my screen‑reading years, I found the Kindle to be most transformative in its ability to collapse the distance between wanting a book and owning it.

But the clincher was a sense of reading with an eye to the future:

Most importantly, using the device in these ways felt like an investment in the future of books and reading. Each Kindle book I bought was a vote with the wallet: yes – digital books! Every note I took, every underline I made was contributing to a vast lattice collection of reader knowledge that would someday manifest in ways beautiful or interesting or otherwise yet unknowable.

So what brought about the shift back to print? He lost the faith. While Amazon has excelled at the infrastructure to get books to the customer, they have done little to nothing for the reading experience itself:

So it’s no surprise that Amazon has built seamless, efficient plumbing for digital books. But after a book has made its way through the plumbing and onto the devices, the once-fresh experience now feels neglected.

And so he found himself subconsciously moving back to print. Which is not a bad thing in itself. But we’re left wondering when the potential of the digital book will be realized. Craig sums it up well:

But I do know that print has endured and continues to endure for good reason. Our relationships to our most meaningful books are long and textured. And until we can trust our digital reading platforms, until the value propositions of digital are made clearer, until the notes and data we produce within them is more accessible and malleable, physical books will remain at the core of our working libraries for a long time coming.

I appreciate both sides here. But the ecosystems around digital reading have some catching up to do.