Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Dec 20, 2010

What is a "Book"?

What is a "Book"?

You would think Julie and I could have figured this out by now - our shelves are filled, after all, with thousands of paper + cardboard + cloth + ink things that we call Books.

So many, in fact, that I wrote us a Home Library database program to keep track of them all - titles, authors, dates, subject keywords, loaned to whom, etc.

In a typical year, I read about 30 books. Like the list-keeper that I am, I record the ones that I read, and when, and what I thought of them. But since buying an iPad in the summer, I have started to wonder, well, what is a Book? Should the e-books I read on the iPad count in my 2010 list?

This latent question, percolating beneath the surface of my mind, came to the fore this morning, when I read The Idea of the Book, a review in the Books and Culture magazine.

I appreciated the author's teasing out of the differences between Book-as-Object, that physical thing that any toddler can identify, and Book-as-Concept, a "considerable length" textual document that "expresses a long story or complex sequence of thoughts," regardless of technology (scroll, codex, eBook, whatever)

I wonder: does The Cat in the Hat meet his Book-as-Concept definition?

So now I'm inclined to add those eBooks to my already-read list. Do I now need to go back and rethink some of the assumptions in my Home Library database program..?


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