In the first, How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write, Steven Johnson, writing for the Wall Street Journal online, tells about the “aha” moment he experienced one of the first times he used Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader:
I knew then that the book's migration to the digital realm would not be a simple matter of trading ink for pixels, but would likely change the way we read, write and sell books in profound ways. It will make it easier for us to buy books, but at the same time make it easier to stop reading them. It will expand the universe of books at our fingertips, and transform the solitary act of reading into something far more social. It will give writers and publishers the chance to sell more obscure books, but it may well end up undermining some of the core attributes that we have associated with book reading for more than 500 years.
There is great promise and opportunity in the digital-books revolution. The question is: Will we recognize the book itself when that revolution has run its course?"
In the second, Curling Up With A Good Screen, Jacob Weisberg, writing for Newsweek, asks: “Why should a civilization that reads electronically be any less literate than one that harvests trees to do so?”
He answers himself that it shouldn’t:
When it comes to literature, I'm optimistic that electronic reading will bring more good than harm. New modes of communication will spur new forms while breathing life into old ones. Reading without paper might make literature more urgent and accessible than it was before the technological revolution, just as Gutenberg did.”
[Thanks to Troy Librarian Constance Doherty for passing on the WSJ article.]