Saturday, September 18, 2021

Quote of the Day (Joseph Epstein, on Words in Print and Digital Form)

“When I have a book or magazine in hand, I generally read every word, attentive not alone to meaning but to style. In digital form, prose has a different feel; style gives way to mere communication. If I discover an essay or article on, say, that runs to more than 25 paragraphs, by the fifteenth paragraph or so I feel a tug of impatience I rarely feel with printed prose. The idea of reading serious poetry online doesn’t even qualify as an abomination.”—American essayist and editor Joseph Epstein, “Casual: Kindle at the Cleaners,” The Weekly Standard, Nov. 14, 2011

Later in the same essay, Epstein observes, “I like the look of books, the heft of them in my hands, their different sizes and various fonts and dust jackets, the smell of them.”

Amen, I say to that. Yes, I have used a Kindle, and I value digital communication for putting at my fingertips what I wouldn’t be able to discover otherwise, such as the original sources of many quotes cited on this blog.

But a printed book, as a physical artifact, is an often undervalued work of art. You don’t have to be an old fogy to appreciate the labor it took to produce it. Maybe that’s why so many of us remain stubbornly resistant to the digital incursion.

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