Monday, November 1, 2010

Trying to think like a monk (yes, the old ones)

This Janet Tronstad. I recently forced my twelve-year old nephew to go to the Huntington Gardens here in Pasadena with me so I could show him their copy of the Guttenberg Bible. It's one of the few in existence and I think it's awesome. He wasn't impressed (;)), but I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Partly because I feel like we are at the same kind of crossroads in the evolution of books today. Our new ebooks are (maybe, somewhat) like the Guttenberg press. And I feel like I'm one of the monks who might have looked up from a lifetime of painting the scrollwork in those ancient texts to protest that people would lose their reverence for books if they weren't done in the same way. And the monks were right. No one would have ever taken one of those scrolls to the bathtub with them! The monks probably also pointed out that their books were more beautiful than the ones printed by machine -- and again they were right. The monks might have even wondered what they would do without their jobs since making the scrollwork was their life.

Change is almost always hard. You hear all the chatter about whether or not people are going to buy ebooks, but I want to know how you feel about the change. Nostalgic for the old? Fearful of the new? Dragging your feet in resistance? Jumping off the bridge in eagerness? Let's talk. And try, if you can, to put yourself in the mind of one of those old monks. Incredible to even think of laboring like they did just to make one copy of one book!


  1. I would love an e-reader. But I still don't think I'll ever give up holding a book in my hands. Would probably do both. :)

  2. Missy -- it does seem to be the feel of the book that most people report they'll miss. I love books and would hate not to have that.

  3. I like both. I love Kindle more than I thought possible. Last night I read it sitting outside while I passed out candy.

  4. My twenty something daughter doesn't want a kindle because of the book feel aspect. My son reads books on his blackberry!!!!

    If I knew that the battery life would handle really long flights I would probably go for one. I took ten books with me on vacation!!!

    But you are right. The monks did do beautiful work but I believe they would say the best option is to get the Word in the hands of people, regardless of the medium.

    Peace, Julie

  5. Pamela -- reading while you're passing out candy is a reason I haven't heard before :)) -- it's a good one.

  6. Julie -- I'd love to talk to one of the ancient monks just to know what they did think -- I'd guess they didn't yet have the perspective to say it was just good to get it out there (not many people read back then, for one thing and what I've read of the clergy back then they weren't so sure the masses could be trusted with the Bible anyway). It's hard to look into the future and know what is best, isn't it?