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2010年6月 6日 (日)

E-book experience unfulfilling

(Mainichi Japan) June 6, 2010
E-book experience unfulfilling

Hiroyuki Itsuki's novel "Shinran" can be read on the Internet until June 11. It's not a bad experience, actually. The font is nice, and the reader can choose what size they read it in. Turning the pages with a mouse goes very smoothly. And yet ... there's something about it that leaves me feeling dissatisfied after about 30 minutes absorbed in the world of the novel. It's the sense that the book ultimately "escapes" from me.

The year 2010 is apparently the dawn of the e-book era. It's a claim that's been made of years past, but this time it's supposed to be the real thing, as we've seen significant developments in the terminals used for e-reading. The new portable terminal iPad has created quite a buzz in Japan, with long lines of buyers queuing in front of Apple stores in Tokyo on the day of its release on May 28. And while I do not subscribe to the view, for the past few weeks, there have been featured pieces in magazines and on television suggesting that print books will disappear.

For over 25 years, I've been scribbling down the date and time I finish reading a book on the colophon page at the end of each book. Along with it, I jot down short notes about the goings-on in my life and my thoughts about the book. It's an odd habit, but recently, I've come to recognize it as a demonstration of "possession."

I went to four bookstores before I was able to purchase the first installment of Haruki Murakami's novel "1Q84." But I don't think of the time it took to look through the first three stores was a waste, for I was able to unexpectedly stumble upon another book I wanted, and was reunited with books I'd read in my youth.

One is able to experience chance encounters with print books. They also teach us the value of the time that we frantically squeezed out from our busy lives to read. And by leaving my notes at the end, each book becomes an invaluable asset.

Meanwhile, Internet reading requires little effort; a few clicks, and the text is in front of you. Consequently, I can only think of the books I read on electronic terminals as "information" gathered for another task.

On the last page of the Internet edition of "Shinran" are the words: "Available in bookstores now!" As it turns out, the publisher wants us to buy the print version, too. I'm somewhat relieved. (By Takahiro Takino, City News Department)

毎日新聞 2010年6月2日 0時01分


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