The Kindle and scholarly reading: are e-book readers a step backwards in the technology of reading?

There’s a lot of discussion about e-books and e-reading at the moment, but not a lot of it relates to the kind of serious, reflective reading that scholars do. So I was very interested to come across a video on Youtube of a lecture given by James J. O’Donnell at Yale University earlier this year.

It’s a very thoughtful and informative analysis of the experience of reading on a Kindle, from the perspective of a humanities scholar (O’Donnell is a Professor of Classics). He makes many good points, but I was particularly struck by his argument that although e-readers are often seen as a step forward, in fact, in their current form, they take the technology of reading a big step backwards. The experience of reading on a Kindle is in many ways more like reading a papyrus scroll than a book.

You can see the video here (35 minutes long) – it’s well worth a look. And let me know what you think!

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