Wake: Up to Poetry
Smartphones and Tablets and E-Readers, Oh My!
At the Wake Forest Press, we have been closely following the debate over e-books and posting articles waged from both sides of this war. Endless questions have been raised, and very few definite answers have been provided. In his recent article “The Way We Read Now,” New York Times book critic Dwight Garner made it his mission to take on the overwhelming, rapidly growing world of electronic books. Garner, unlike many figures in the literary world, is quite open to the e-book revolution. He doesn’t take a firm stand promoting or bashing e-books, and he does not think that this debate needs to be such a brawl. Before exploring e-books, Garner divided electronic readers into three categories- the smartphone, the e-reader, and the tablet. Using his iPhone, Amazon Kindle, and iPad as test dummies, he set out to determine which types of literature, if any, worked best on each device.
After experimenting with these different platforms, Garner came to the following conclusions. Smartphones are perfect for journalism, quick news updates, and audio books. E-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, provide the intimacy between reader and text that is experienced with paper books. “In reading, like love, fidelity matters,” Garner wrote. The Kindle, which has no backlight, feels most like reading straight from a paper book. On the iPad, Garner found that lengthy non-fiction books worked best. In many electronic versions of such books, the footnotes contain links to sources and other relevant tidbits to enhance the reader’s understanding of the book.
Garner also tried reading poetry on each type of device. His final verdict? Poetry should stick to paper. He says:
“There’s not enough white space, nor silence. The poems seem shrunken and trapped, like lobsters half-dead in a supermarket glass-pen, their claws rubber-banded. Poems should be printed on paper, or carved onto the dried husks of coconuts, so one can hoard them.”