The Page Abides
|eBooks let me zoom in on the details. . .|
|zero in on the topics I want. . .|
|and window-shop enticing content.|
I live within spitting distance of a book-lover's Mecca. Powell's "City of Books," in Portland, Oregon, is the largest independent new and used book seller in the world. Its main store covers a whole city block, and you never know what you'll find there. (A minister friend used to call it one of the truly holy places in Portland. My spouse calls it the "black hole," because once in proximity, neither I nor my money can escape its overwhelming attraction.) As sales of digital books increase, you might think that the attraction of Powell's would diminish, or you might bemoan the loss of the tactile pleasures of books: the smell, the weight in your hands, the crisp turning of pages.
But the aisles at Powell's are still full of pilgrims of the printed word, and the coffee shop hums with literary discussion and that sound of pages turning. For me, the digital world only strengthens the pull of the Powell's gravity well: now I can search their inventory online and find hundreds of weaving titles, many of them long out-of-print treasures: a pamphlet on Mexican motifs from Harriet Tidball, a study course by Else Regensteiner, and a monograph on weaving in Tibet. Of course, I felt it my duty to acquire these three and preserve them for future generations. (OK, I see your face, and my husband had that same expression, but I swear that's why I bought them.)
Overall, the digital world enhances my reading and weaving pleasure. Not only is it easier to locate and buy rare and treasured weaving books and magazine, but now I can get the latest books in a digital format that's instant, eco-friendly, and weaver-friendly. Just last week I downloaded a copy of "The Weaver's Studio: Doubleweave" from Zinio. Easy, and I felt good about no packaging, no shipping materials or costs, nothing to throw away. (Reduce, is the first part of "reduce, reuse, recycle," after all.) In moments, the book was in my library, and I had the best time zipping through the contents and looking at the projects. A printed index is finite, but now I can just search on whatever word or phrase is on my mind. I can look at little thumbnails of the pages to see what entices. I can zoom in on the pictures to see more detail and enlarge the pages for easier reading when my eyes are tired. I can choose whether I want pages to scroll or to flip like a physical book. (Folks at Interweave will tell you that I'm a vehement non-flipper.) I can print out copies of drafts and instructions to write on or keep at my loom, without the guilt of cramming a printed book in the copier and weakening its poor spine.
Right now, the Doubleweave book and the Weaver's Idea Book are available on Zinio, more weaving books will follow, and I'm excited. More great books on my computer, more precious space on my shelves for the rare and wonderful books I can only find in print. Do I miss the paper? Not a whit. Long live print, and long live digital. The page abides.