Monday, November 1, 2010

Janet Tronstad - Thinking Like An Old Monk

Hi, this is Janet Tronstad here. I recently forced my twelve-year-old nephew to go to the Hungtington Gardens here in Pasadena with me to see their copy of the Guttenberg Bible. It's one of the few in existence and I think it's awesome. He wasn't interested (:)), 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 they had always been done. And the monks were right! No one would have ever taken one of those scrolls to the bathrub 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 kind of 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 to make books.

4 comments:

JennaVictoria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JennaVictoria said...

Janet (reposted due to typos!) I am quite computer savvy; I have a blog, and a personal website, I Tweet on Twitter, I post on Facebook, and can LOL SPEAK with the best of them. Yet, despite all this presence on the "internets" I have yet to read an e-book. As a writer, I intend to sell manuscripts to ebook pubs... but as a reader? I cannot imagine a day when I didn't turn pages made of honest-to-goodness actual paper to read a beloved fiction novel. My husband has been making noises about buying me a Kindle for my birthday in December. I am torn. It will be a lot less heavy to carry, but I adore the scent of ink, the glossy feel of a romantic cover under my fingertips.

Janet Tronstad said...

Jenna -- I so get where you are. I'm a little torn, too. The thing that is amazing about a Kindle is not having to carry the books on a trip or something -- but the problem is that you don't have the feel of a book when you read.

Janet Tronstad said...

Loves2Read -- I can't imagine that having an ebook published (in only ebook format) would ever be as satisfying to me as opening a box of books and feeling one in my hand. And I feel bad for the monks, too.