Community /


The opinions expressed in these blogs are solely those of the people who wrote them, and do not represent the views of WPSU or Penn State University.


What Makes a Book a Book?

Posted by Cynthia B on 08/03 at 07:16 AM

This morning, on NPR’s Morning Edition, Lynn Neary and Linda Wertheimer talked about the growing use of so-called “electronic readers,” and the question of, “What makes a book a book?”
I got an electronic reader recently, as a gift, and I can vouch for all the pros and cons cited. 

On a recent long airplane ride, I had run out of reading material.  Never again! These devices let you carry a suitcaseful of books in a package weighing a few ounces.  So that’s a definite plus.

For the technophobic, I can report, these devices are notably well designed and easy to use.  Many prompts are built in, so you don’t have to memorize a lot of commands; if you forget what button you need to push, it will remind you.

Linda talked in rather glowing terms about “cozying up to a Kindle.” I can report that one nifty feature—the display shifts automatically from vertical to landscape when you rotate it, just like an i-Phone—is actually a disadvantage when reading in bed. You’re just getting comfy, when you roll a fraction of an inch too far and oops, the screen displays in a plane perpendicular to your field of view.

Design is also an issue. The book I am currently reading has amusing epigrams at the start of each chapter—but each opening page has exactly one line of type that is forced to the next (otherwise blank) page.  I spent 8 years working at a magazine that won awards for design and layout, and if our designer had ever made such a gaffe, I think she would have given herself 20 lashes with an editor’s blue pencil.

Finally, when I buy books I often pass them along to friends.  The biggest disadvantage of an e-book: you can’t share it.  It’s on your reader, that’s it.

I love books—owning them, holding them, re-reading them, filling rooms with them.  My dad was in the book business, and back when I was a nerdy kid with big thick glasses and a different book lying facedown in every room of the house.  I thought he had the best job in the world. 

I don’t believe “real” books are going to disappear, but I do think electronic readers, in some form, are here to stay.

Author: Cynthia B
Bio: WPSU-FM Producer


Leave a Comment

Commenting is not available in this section entry. « A Great Day in Sheffield and the Valley Texting While Driving is No Joke »

Most recent entries

Local Food Journey's avatar Being a vegetarian in State College
Friday, January 23, 2015
By Local Food Journey in Local Food Journey
Linda Weaver's avatar Upcoming events for wine enthusiasts in February and March
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
By Linda Weaver in Local Food Journey
LacCreta Holland 's avatar Cream of cauliflower soup fights the winter chill
Friday, January 16, 2015
By LacCreta Holland in Local Food Journey
Jamie Oberdick's avatar Food court featuring local food? Find it at the Farm Show
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
By Jamie Oberdick in Local Food Journey



Latest Photos