Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I usually describe myself as semi-literate when it comes to computers. For example, I was writing this blog directly on the New Post screen when my computer announced it was shutting down, and I had no idea why or how to prevent what I had already written from disappearing. I have a very computer-literate husband who cannot make me understand how to do many things on my laptop. I took a course for beginners but it taught me how to do a few things I never want to do and none of the things I do want to do. Some day I will take another course or two -- or I will wait until a good friend finishes learning to be a computer tech, and let her show me.

On the other hand, I don't remember learning to read. I do remember first grade and Dick, Jane and Sally -- but I already knew most of the words. I remember mastering t-h-o-u-g-h, a "big" word whose pronunciation did not match the spelling. English is a peculiar language.

I remember my mother taking me to the library and the thrill I felt when I saw all those books. And they were FREE!! I couldn't get over how wonderful a library was. I still think it's a wonderful bargain.

I have been a life-long bibliophile. There have always been books wherever I lived. My husband is one, too. The first change we made to our co-op after moving in was to have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves installed. The shelves are filled and there are supplementary bookshelves now.

But now comes this new electronic way of reading. Hundreds of books can be put into a device smaller, thinner, and lighter than a hardcover. I don't own one, but I probably will someday.

The idea is not as new as you might think. At a science-fiction convention I went to more than twenty years ago, a speaker told of the possibility of an electronic reader, starting a very big discussion of the ramifications, and whether or not it would overtake books like books had overtaken scrolls. Sci-fi people are at least as much bibliophiles as mystery fans, but they are by and large young and very open to advances in science and technology. Yet most of them were against the idea, because they love not only reading, but the books themselves, the feel, the ease of handling them, the lack of need for electricity. But one person stood up and said one word: Moving. The young often change residences after they first leave home. And bibliophiles quickly learn that books are heavy, and they don't fold up small. Suddenly an electronic reader seemed like a marvelous idea.

I wonder if the device is going to make it harder for the countries that prefer their women uneducated, even illiterate. Surely there will be programs for the e-book device that teach the owner to read. And one slim device is much easier to hide than even one thick, heavy book. And with more and more of the world's books available, it will be harder than ever to keep women -- and men, for that matter, ignorant.

I have seen the future and it is e-readers.


Linda O. Johnston said...

So much of what we take for granted today was yesterday's sci-fi, Monica. I wonder what they're discussing at sci-fi conventions today as the next big techno discovery. Maybe I'll go to one and find out!

Monica Ferris said...

You know, Linda, maybe I should go to one, too, just to see what the future may look like. Minnicon is a big con and it takes place right here in the Twin Cities.

Lynn said...

It will be awhile before I can change over to e-readers. I have started, a lot of my research is on line or on disk, but there is nothing like a paperback at the beach under an umbrella. No worries abt it getting wet, suntain lotion on it, or if it gets sandy.

BTW I'm reading Thai Die and loving it!!!

Monica Ferris said...

I'm with you at the beach, Lynn! Works for camping trips, too.

Betty Hechtman said...

I always laugh when people are so full of themselves about having the latest gadget because in a few years it will probably looked dated and silly.

I remember seeing this woman at the grocery store who was making a big deal out of using her portable phone. It was so big it had to sit in the part of the shopping cart set aside for a child.