Are eBooks Changing How We Read and Write?

NPR ran a story on eBooks on its Website today. It’s the usual think-piece on what eBooks mean to the big picture in response to the holiday eBook buzz. No new news, but some smart thoughts from three prominent literary types.

Tech lev.pngtheorist Nicholas Carr says “Over the last couple of years, I’ve really noticed if I sit down with a book, after a few paragraphs, I’ll say, ‘You know, where’s the links? Where’s the e-mail? Where’s all the stuff going on?'” This is alarming, and perhaps not the general experience of eReading, though Carr is something of an alarmist.

Fiction writer Rick Moody describes the experience of writing his now infamous Twitter story as “kind of like trying to write haiku. It’s very poetical in its compaction.” Poets might argue otherwise, but that’s an argument for another blog.

Time book critic and novelist Lev Grossman thinks eReaders change how we read: “They scroll and scroll and scroll. You don’t have this business of handling pages and turning them and savoring them.” He goes on to say that eBooks encourage a kind of writing that is “Very forward moving, very fast narrative … and likewise you don’t tend to linger on the language. When you are seeing a word or a sentence on the screen, you tend to go through it, you extract the data, and you move on.”