Mark Athitakis lays out my biggest gripe about ebooks:
[I read] almost always with a pen or pencil in my hand, ready to underline a sentence, scribble a margin note or, if I’m particularly struck by something, dash off a trio of exclamation points. I don’t think of this as something I do in addition to reading — it’s how I read. So something always feels a little off when I read a book on my Kindle or iPad… E-books promise all sorts of frictionless interactivity, except the one I really want.
Note taking is just one problem. Books aren’t just in conversation with readers but with themselves: What happens on page 362 harks back to something on page 15 that foreshadows events on page 144. Noticing these connections is part of my work, and it wasn’t until I began reading e-books that I realized how much bouncing back and forth I do in a physical book, something e-books don’t easily facilitate. Readers enthuse about being immersed in a good book, but e-book progress bars encourage us to read only one way: straight ahead, at a sprint.
cf. Errol Morris: “A printed book is a random access device, a Kindle is not.”
Sam Anderson, the magazine’s critic at large and resident marginalia obsessive, selects highlights from a year in reading — and scribbling.
This is the second year @shamblanderson’s done his year in marginalia — last year’s was for The Millions. I liked the format of last year’s better—the Times feature puts the page in a weird cropped box you have to zoom around and there’s no transcript for the audio. But hey, it’s still cool.
Full ownership of a book only comes when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it — which comes to the same thing — is by writing in it. Why is marking a book indispensable to reading it? First, it keeps you awake — not merely conscious, but wide awake. Second, reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks. Third, writing your reactions down helps you to remember the thoughts of the author. Reading a book should be a conversation between you and the author….Marking a book is literally an expression of your differences or your agreements…It is the highest respect you can pay him.
[the] process was in the Renaissance frequently expressed by means of a metaphor of eating and processing (ruminating, digesting) food. Notebooks and commonplace books supported this method of critical reading. Ready-made turns of phrase forged a necessary link between reading and imitation: expressions that pupils initially could not remember, they noted down and learnt by rote. Erasmus in his programme for learning De Ratione Studii encouraged pupils to note down succinct expressions at the beginning and end of every book they read.
In theatre, there’s something called a prompt book. The prompt book is what the stage manager has, usually a loose-leaf book with all the lighting cues. I make a prompt book out of the novel. In other words, I break the novel, and I glue the pages in a loose-leaf, usually with the square cutout so I can see both sides.
The Art of Google Books was conceived by Krissy Wilson after spending a great deal of time sifting through Google’s digitized books, trying to match the texts of exposed binder’s waste in nineteenth century children’s books with their texts of origin.
The aim of this project is twofold; to recognize book digitization as rephotography, and to value the signs of use that accompany these texts as worthy of documentation and study.
Cool shit happens in the process of scanning millions of books.
When a consumer encounters marginalia in a used book, it has the potential to change one’s perception of a book’s value. Cathy Marshall, a Microsoft researcher, found that university students evaluated textbooks before purchasing so that they can bring home the book with the smartest notes.
I don’t know about you, but I always hated underlined passages in used books. They derail my private enjoyment….When somebody offers perception of what’s important, something moronic, usually…And this thing on my Kindle…something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station.