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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 11, March 14, 2010, Article 22

COLLECTING E-BOOKS?

Tony Hine forwarded this blog post about a potential end result of e-books: e-book collecting. -Editor

Kindle Book Reader People who reject e-books often say they can't live without the heft, the texture and — curiously — the scent of traditional books.

No less a reader than the cultural critic Walter Benjamin, as card-carrying a man of letters as the world has ever seen, savored the physicality of books. In his 1931 essay "Unpacking My Library: A Talk About Book Collecting" — Benjamin turns euphoric while surveying his dusty books. He's enchanted by each one: "the period, the region, the craftsmanship, the former ownership." In acquiring books, often in mock-heroic ways, he says he has managed "to renew the Old World."

So how do I display or otherwise admire all these books I keep buying for the Kindle?

Unpacking my Kindle library, I click "menu" on my screen and find . . . a list.

Beholding "the several thousand volumes that are piled up around me," Benjamin exclaims: "O bliss of the collector! Bliss of the man of leisure!" With nothing piled up around me but the Kindle and its charger, I may be missing out.

But even Benjamin, who managed to see the future of media and technology more than once, knew he was writing an elegy for a way of experiencing books. I like to think he would be the first to recognize that the Kindle delivers a new kind of bliss.

To read the complete article, see: Collecting E-books? (www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/magazine/07FOB-medium-t.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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