From Manuscripts to the E-Book: The Advancements of Reading

The new age of technology has received a lot of mixed reviews with each new invention that has come out—and rightfully so, considering a lot of things nowadays are being transformed into a new, sleeker, and more advanced technological approach. One example of this is the Nook, a new “hard copy” of reading without having to physically turn the pages. Of course, like said before, new advances always have mixed reviews. But this trend has gone on for much longer than we may know about—think back to the upbringing of the printing press.

In the article From Gutenberg to the Internet edited by Jeremy M. Norton, it is expressed not only creatively but socially as well why the invention of the printing press was so drastic. For one, some viewed printing as the “black art” and an apprentice of a printer was “the printers devil” (Norton 30), illustrated in the following picture from the From Gutenberg to the Internet article.9

(valleyadvocate.com)

There were other examples as well, such as the idea of printing preventing the flow of new ideas to be as strong as they can be.

But on the other hand of this, some people saw the good that came out of it:

“Information could be distributed to a far wider audience, far faster and at a lower cost than before the invention of printing and wider portions of literate society could afford printed books, enabling more people to follow debates and to take part in discussions of matters that concerned them.” (Norton 30)

Some people also viewed being able to have books as a rank of power and of wealth, though they usually only owned “three or four books” (Norton 23) it usually still showed a rank of wealth.

Which brings in the ideas that were more so swarming around the Nook and Kindle when they were first introduced to the public. When they were introduced, they had a sort of “wealth status” to them like printed books did—now one could get a Kindle for maybe $60, but before it wasn’t exactly like that. Also, in relation to the printing press and printed books, buying an internet book is usually far cheaper than buying a hard copy. One could buy an internet copy of a book for around $2.00, but in an actual hard copy it could be possibly $15.00. With this idea as well means that, typically, internet books are more easily accessible than a hard copy—it’s less bulkier if it were to be a larger hard copy and less of a hassle to physically turn pages on areas such as busses or trains where a lot would be kind of shaky.

But, people have argued for a while that nothing compares to a hard copy—the Nook takes away the simpler way to highlight and make notes of things that compel you, and obviously everyone loves that new book smell which you can’t get digitally. But in this new age we’re in, the Nook is still a very big invention that has mixed reviews—like what the printing press received when it was first introduced.

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3 thoughts on “From Manuscripts to the E-Book: The Advancements of Reading

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  1. Hello,

    I really enjoyed this blog post and it was actually quite similar to mine! I too discussed the fact that new technology today is often looked at differently by various people. Some people love it; others, not so much.

    Our posts connect really well to an article I read in my ENG 362 class titled, “Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading,” by Andrew Piper on Slate.com. A bold statement, if you ask me. Basically, Piper discusses how physically reading a book, touching it, and turning its pages is far better than swiping on a Kindle. He goes into further detail, of course, but if you were to expand on this post it probably would be worth it to read it and mention it, if you’d like!

    It’s interesting you talked about book prices, too. If you go on Amazon and look at the prices of books vs. e-books, you’ll see that Kindle versions and e-books are more expensive than purchasing printed copies. Not by much, but if you expanded on this in your argument, I think it could help make it a little stronger.

    Great job!
    -Kendall

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  2. I really like the comparison between hard copy and e-books that the blog focuses on. It is been an on going argument of the printed word versus the digital that is fascinating to read people’s views about. It is almost as though hard copy books have become a novelty to own because everyone has switched to e-readers. I think it would be interesting if you expand on the comparison not just between hard copy and e-books, but hard copies and digital reading in general. Many websites, like Amazon, give customers the option to read the book right on their laptop instead of having to buy the Kindle. I would be curious to hear your take on how the digital companies have impacted buying hard copies of books.

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  3. Your reference to the “black art” of printing provides a useful reminder of the anxiety that often comes with change. At the same time, it’s important to consider how the ways we experience a text do indeed change when its format changes (Kendall’s comment does a really nice job picking up on this).

    You might compare the original price of the Kindle to its current price tag, to better illustrate how it moved from being a specialty item to a commonplace one. I’d also like to see a bit more background (perhaps link to a few examples?) on your note about the costs of e-books vs. printed books.

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