Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In Which I Prove Myself a Luddite

Just yesterday, maybe the day before, I requested Beautiful Children from the library (OK, that doesn't prove I'm a luddite, it proves I'm a pop culture lemming, but keep reading). Our town belongs to a library consortium of maybe 25 local towns, so I am something like the 128th hold on 32 copies. In other words, it's going to be a while before I'm reading Beautiful Children.

EXCEPT. Stop the presses. Turn on the computer.

Charles Bock is making Beautiful Children available as a free download from now until Friday. Shades of Radiohead, except even more rad. Sort of. Given that Powell's has only one copy available, I'm guessing they're going back to print but don't want to miss any potential readers between now and then. But, whatever, free book, more power to him.

Except. It's a PDF. You have to read it in Acrobat. On your computer.

Now I spend hours a day reading on my computer--email, NY Times, blogs, documents, even short stories and poems. But an entire book? On the screen? I'm not so excited.

So it comes down to time vs. comfort. Read it now? Or read it on the PAGE?

I may not be the best test case here, or maybe it's that this book may not be the best test case for me, because I'm not dying to read it (I'm not dying to read anything right now, which makes me kind of sad--please, if there's anything I should be dying to read, recommend it!). But the idea of reading Beautiful Children on my computer has no appeal. I even--I'll confess--downloaded it, and seeing the text on the screen was less appealing than the idea of the text on the screen.

I'm waiting for the book. However long it takes.


postacademic said...

Yeah. I'm not dying to read it either - although I was fascinated with his various journalistic profiles and I wish I'd had an unhappy fling with him. I really hope he's not "dick lit" - like David Foster Wallace or William T. Vollmann. Shoot, I'm becoming more of a knee jerk second wave feminist every day.

I'm trying to read out of copyright stuff on Google books right now - and it is not easy. Plus, if you want to make marginal notations that'll last for a couple hundred years ("dick!"), pen or pencil on paper still hasn't been superseded for longevity.

But I love how neurotic I can get about tracking citations and the like...

Libby said...

I can't read a book on a computer screen, either...

landismom said...

I'm slogging through four different books right now, and I'm not dying to read any of them. Doing it on a computer screen would only be more slog-ful.