Grant McCracken: How To Read A Book Now

A look at the new ways we are reading and interacting with content.

Sometime in the late 1970s, I was sitting in the Rare Books Room of the Cambridge University library.  I had just come back from lunch.

I was reading a leather bound book published in 1588, and all of a sudden and for the very briefest moment, I imagined myself immensely fat, covered in grease, and sitting on a groaning wooden chair that seemed ready to burst.

And then the sensation was gone.  If you are inclined to this sort of thing, and I am not, you would say that I made psychic contact with the person who owned this book, that I was for a split second an Elizabethan.

I don’t think this.  At all.  I recall the moment, because for all our differences, this book owner and I had a lot in common.  At least when it came to the activity called reading.  We held something made out of paper in our hands and gazed upon the page.  We may have been separated by half a century and differences of every imaginable kind, but when it came to books, we were one.

And now even that has passed.  Sometime last week I started to read books in a new way.

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