Books

I don’t have many active childhood memories and many of them merge into a feeling more than a distinct memory.

One of these is my father sitting in the corner between my brothers bed and mine, reading books like “The Hobbit” to us at before going to sleep.

The moment that engraved this forever in my mind was that the moment i received the call announcing his unexpected and sudden death.

I was lying on a bed, listening to an audiobook version of “The Hobbit”.

Much later, when i left my parents place to go to university in a different country, my father, who hardly ever bought us material things, gave me an unlimited budget for buying books.

So i have strong ties between books and my father, but these days i’m the one reading books to a son and i wonder about the impact these books have on him.

One obvious change since i was a child is the shift to E-Books.

Lots has been written about the shift to E-Book-Readers and their pros and cons, but a couple of weeks back i heard Richard Stallman point out one obvious, but mostly uncommented fact about E-Books: they cannot be shared.

But sharing or giving away books gives me deep pleasure. There is hardly any medium whose mere consumption can have such a massive impact on a persons life as a book — and as there are many books that have influenced me in this way, i always want to give these to people who might benefit from them.

One very important differentiating factor between books and other types of media is the way they engage the consumer.

In my view this is best explained by the notion of hot and cold media as coined by Marshal McLuhan: in his idea a medium is regarded as hot if the interpreting act involves the consumer while it is cold, or colder if the medium is very rich and thereby reduces the necessity of involvement.

No medium i can think of is more reduced than a book and therefore it still is the strongest.

This is why i use an E-Book-Reader in combination with instapaper to reduce interesting but lukewarm online-content into hot stuff.

And this is why i will always continue to buy books in paper, simply because i can give them to people or put them into the aluminum flightcase known as “the Noah-Box” that i will give to my son when he’s old enough.

Thomas Schindler