This morning I opened the San Diego Tribune to see an article titled "The Year of the Tablet." A few years back, the tablet in the spotlight was Viagra. A few years prior to Viagra, an article with this title hailed the positive effects of Prozac on the collective conscious. Rewind a couple of thousand years, and the tablet of the year was made out of slate and inscribed with ten commandments from GOD. Poor Moses, schlepping that huge tablet all the way up a mountain with no padded carry-on bag with shoulder-supporting cushion to aid him.
Today's tablet of hour is an electronic wonder, weighing in at only a few pounds and capable of making the wisdom of a thousand or so years available for perusing by the mere touch of a finger tip. It seems everything old is new again. The tablet is back! Made famous by the Rosetta Stone and the X'Ian Forest of Stone Tablets, this modernized slate is anything but blank. Welcome to 2010 a space odyssey, where the practices of putting printing press to paper and cracking a spine (except those found in a chiropractor's office) are extinct. The e-reader is in. Bound books and scrolls are history.
The traditionalist in me in searching for an argument as to why reading a novel, a newspaper or a poem on a portable, scrollable, electronic screen could not possibly be as enjoyable as opening up a printed Penguin Portable and turning real paper pages printed with ink. Possible down-sides may include: running out of battery power just as you come to the last page of WAR AND PEACE, MOBY DICK or any whodunnit; Trying to pass your boyfriend or girlfriend a tablet during class (oh wait, that's what texting is for...); the effects of an otherwise character-building coffee cup ring on the electronic innards; the inability to write your name on the inside cover before loaning it out.
My thoughts turn to a time when vinyl records were going the way of the Dodo. Many were happy to get rid of the cumbersome Record jackets and contents that we housed in old milk crates or on make-shift brick and plank bookshelves. The CD was small! It was portable! It was flashy and cool! That was until the MP3 rubbed them out.
My garage currently houses 50 plus boxes of old-fashioned hard and soft cover books. Our new house was built by someone who had, unbelievably, no use for bookshelves. We instead have all of these recesses where shelves are supposed to be but were never built. As a result, we have nowhere to house my revered, and extensive, collection of books. Is it time for a transition? Time for me to purchase an e-reader into which I could simply and economically download the intellectual contents of those 50 plus boxes?
Nah. Anyone know a good carpenter? I need some custom shelves built.