The Kindle allows for electronic marginalia via the “notes” function, but it feels all wrong: something about having to call up a menu and type a note on the keypad, with its little stud-like plastic buttons, makes the whole process seem forced and contrived. Marginalia are supposed to be spontaneous and fluent. “Noting” something on a Kindle feels like e-mailing yourself a throwaway remark. There’s also something attractive about the contrast between the impersonal authority of the printed page and the idiosyncrasies of the reader’s handwriting. A book someone has written in is an oddly intimate object; like an item of clothing once worn by a person now passed away, it retains something of its former owner’s presence.
Friday, January 27, 2012
This Editor loves formatted, printed text; he loves marginalia; and he loves marking, dog-earing, and thumbnailing his way through books and articles. His Kindle receives a fair amount of attention but the inaccessibility of the text itself, the lack of pagination, and the repositioning of the text on the screen when one leaps to and fro footnotes are constant sources of aggravation. This comment, in the New Yorker hit home, particularly: