Thursday, April 29, 2010

Technology and the Writing Biz

Here’s an op-ed article from the Baltimore SUN contrasting traditional books with e-books, with special reference to reading WINNIE THE POOH aloud to a child:

Reading and Computers

And here’s a piece from the same day’s editorial page about writing on the computer versus the old-fashioned way:

Writing and Computers

And last, a long article from the NEW YORKER about whether the iPad can “save books.” This one is mainly about the BUSINESS of publishing:

iPad and Kindle

The first piece listed above skirts annoyingly close to the fallacious contrast often made between e-books and “real books.” Once and for all, media folks, e-books are BOOKS. I can remember similar scorn for paperbacks as “not real books” (“trashy paperback” in some circles was one word, like “damnyankee”). E-books serve better than paper books for some functions and not so well for others. I agree with the writer of that article about children’s picture books; even a full-color electronic display would be only a second-choice substitute for the traditional format. On the other hand, children’s material composed specifically for the electronic format could take advantage of features unavailable to old-fashioned books, such as interactivity.

The editorial about writing on the computer makes one assertion I heartily disagree with—that a word processor never improved anyone’s writing. It has certainly improved, if not revolutionized, mine! Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I was reluctant to rewrite because every change meant retyping a page, and a major rewrite would require weeks of repetitious work. I tended to think long and hard about whether replacing a not-quite-there phrase with a better alternative was worth the time and manual labor. (Not to mention the risk of introducing new typos with each iteration.) Now I can keep revising until the work is as close to perfect as it’s likely to get. And responding to editors’ revision requests may not be exactly a pleasure, but it’s no longer a nightmare. Viva technology!

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt


  1. Vive la technology indeed! Hear! Hear!

  2. Yeah, I agree on that last point. Sounds like a silly Luddite to me.