I have a love-hate relationship with digital books, and Craig Mod really put into words everything that I have been feeling these past few years as the world saw the rise and hype of the Kindle, iBook, Microsoft LIT, Newton eBook – the list seems endless. “iBooks and Kindle.app are incompetent e-readers. They get in the way of the reading experience and treat digital books like poorly typeset PDFs.” iBooks is an enemy of mine – whether you call it tradition or stubbornness, I can’t get on well with it. “iBooks jams the readers’ field of view with the detritus of a 3D ‘book’” and it frustrates me when I wonder if they think they’re truly fooling people’s reading experience. The specific reason that readers have gone for an eBook is because they’re very aware of its practicalities against a tradition set of books – which would weigh a lot more than humanly possible to carry on the train. So we’re aware it isn’t a real book, why make it seem as if I am turning real life pages? I wish I could get on with them; it makes sense to have all of your books in one lightweight place. Nowadays, you can practically carry around your entire life in the 5×2 inches of your iPhone, so why not put books into that. I have been battling with whether the access to word definition with the tap of a finger and the access to extensive works within author, genre and time period make it worth it.
However, I was unable to argue with Julia Flander’s comments on the Digital Anthology as “a superstructure of metadata, retrieval and analysis tools, and editorial decisions”. After learning about the digital process within the women’s writers project, and the expanse of information you get and the hard work that goes into it. I have got a new and improved, not preferred but admired, view on the process and final product of digitizing books.
I started to think about how well my PET book would work digitally. As a text that is imageless – this editorial decision is not a problem. In fact, in the light of my own disbelief of digital books – I feel that my PET Book would be very successful digitally. I actually remember myself wondering why it wasn’t online already. The Grave: a Poem by Robert Blair together with Gray’s Celebrated Elegy in a Country Church Yard (and accompanied by Oliver Goldsmith’s Deserted Village) is a collection that appears tied together through genre – with social commentary on life and death. I automatically thought how successful digitizing this text would be when thinking the graveyard poetry genre that Blair and Gray’s poems are at the forefront of. It would have been great to click or tap and get a list of other poems of the graveyard genre, or biographical and publishing details, in my research process. I also feel that the font would be easily transferred digitally, with the font looking incredibly similar to that on Mac and Microsoft computers.
Flanders, Julia. Electronic Textual Editing: The Women Writers Project: A Digital Anthology, http://www.tei-c.org/About/Archive_new/ETE/Preview/flanders.xml
Mod, Craig. Embracing the eBook, http://craigmod.com/journal/ebooks/