Book Review: Currently Reading – Print is Dead, by Jeff Gomez


I have been reading ‘Print is Dead – Books in our Digital Age,’ by Jeff Gomez. I have now completed the fourth chapter ‘Generation Download.’ In this chapter, Gomez begins by comparing what has happened with the music industry with what has begun to happen with books and reading. A generation that has embraced a digital way of life, along with the gadgets that go with it, is out-growing the traditional book and craving digital technology and digital forms of entertainment. Music itself did not die with the coming of the digital world, only the form in which it was presented. The same resistance that the music industry applied to digital technology before it embraced it, is now being witnessed in the book industry – though I would argue that ebooks are taking a little longer to take off. Gomez argues that it is only a matter of time before an acceptable digital format is found that will have ebooks off and running, along with some form or forms of digital devices on which ebooks will be accessed. Perhaps the growing boom in Tablets and Ebook Readers is an indication that that time is now upon us.

Certainly I am a convert, having been previously a doubter of ebooks and the way they were accessed. More mobile forms of accessing ebooks, such as the Kindle, iPad and even Notebooks, have enabled me to transform my thinking, from one in opposition to being one who has fully embraced the technology. Being able to carry vast libraries on mobile devices is simply breathtaking to me and incredibly appealing. Not having to have huge spaces devoted to a large library and actually having the space to store a huge library is simply brilliant – I had long ago ran out of room for my books and needed to cull quite a number, which I did reluctantly. Now I am able to recall those dismissed books via the digital medium and not loose them again. Old friends are again welcome.

In the following chapter, ‘Generation Upload,’ the focus is on the savvy Internet user (which is generally most connected folk these days) who not only downloads material but also uploads modified material, uniquely created material and so on. This has been so with music and video, with the various play lists, mash ups, parodies and the like, as well as comments, contributions, etc. Will the same happen with books is the question raised by Gomez and predicted. Just how far consumer interaction will be with ebooks is yet to be seen, as also the form it will take. There are opportunities already existing for commenting and reviewing, with developments being made in the way of sharing quotes (Pinterest interaction, Quotista, etc), and likely many more ways yet to be invented or passed on convincingly to the masses.

‘On Demand Everything,’ the next chapter in the book, brings the attention of the reader to what we already know – we expect to be able to get pretty much everything whenever we want it and that better be soon. No longer do we need to wait for our media to arrive at given timeslots on the television, our CD music to arrive in the mail, etc. We now have the ability to access it all as soon as we want it and then to keep it in mobile gadgets that we can take with us and access whenever we wish. This then is surely the future of books. Gomez believes we will want to be able to divide large books into bits and pieces that we can access and use in whatever way we like – which would certainly be true of some forms of literature. However, it is unlikely that we would want to divide up novels for example, into little pieces. The ability to bookmark, highlight and clip pieces of text (among other possibilities) for various uses, is certainly increasing the appeal of ebooks and bringing them a more familiar feel, which will I think increase their usefulness considerably. Being able to find quotes, parcels of text and the like via search capabilities, cataloguing, etc, will all be very valuable tools that will bring ebooks into the realm of what is now possible with music, videos, etc.

In the next chapter, ‘Ebooks and the Revolution that Didn’t Happen,’ Gomez examines the reasons why Ebooks didn’t take off when they first appeared – which doesn’t mean they won’t take off at some point (which I do believe will happen at some point). His arguments certainly capture some of my own thoughts at the time of their first appearance, so if I was typical of people (at least of my age) at that time he may very well have hit the nail on the head. Some of the original issues still exist, such as the number of file types and matching them with the various readers and access to the files across a variety of devices. Perhaps when these issues are thought through with a bit more commonsense ebooks will become more popular sooner rather than later.

See also:
http://www.dontcallhome.com/books.html (Website of Jeff Gomez)
Podcast (Excerpts from the Book)
Google Books
Amazon

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‘The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin


I have been reading ‘The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin, in the last week or so. It is not the first time that I have read this book, having read it some time ago – probably 10 years ago now I would say.

This is a book that I would recommend to any believer, but particularly to a Reformed believer, whether he be Paedobaptist or Baptist. Verduin seeks to analyse the Reformation and the relationship between the Reformers and their ‘stepchildren’ from a Biblical standpoint, rather than any particular denominational standpoint. Though he does defend the stepchildren, he does so only when they are in line with Scriptural teaching on the point being discussed within that particular chapter.

Who are the stepchildren? The stepchildren or the ‘second front,’ as Verduin also describes them, are those believers who sought a complete reforming of the church. In fact, it may be fair to say that these believers sought a complete break from the Romish church, and a new church built on the teachings of Scripture and modelled on the New Testament church alone.

The frustration for these nonconformist believers was that the reform movement only went so far and did not result in the complete renewal that they desired and that the situation required.

Thus far I have read only the first two chapters of the book and once again I am finding it a very worthwhile read. I find myself in substantial agreement with the position of many of the stepchildren and with Verduin. With as much respect as I have for the Reformers, such as John Calvin, Martin Luther and John Knox, I too would have found myself frustrated at the level of reform achieved by them (though they were better men than I). A complete break and renewal would have been the way forward I believe.

The first two chapters deal with the joint secular-religious church-state that was set up at both the time of Constantine and then at the Reformation in the various Protestant nations that embraced the Reformation. They deal with the all-embracing religion that was constructed in such centres as Geneva and the ‘unified’ approach to it, as well as the reaction of the stepchildren and their withdrawal from it.

This book is as close to a must read for believers as there is I think – especially of the Reformed persuasion.

My copy of the book (paperback) is by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. and was printed in 1964.