Bookmark and Share
My Photo


    Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.


« Abp. Thomas Gullickson recommends YOUCAT for "every Catholic home bookshelf" | Main | Benedict XVI reflects on Psalmist's lament and prayer of supplication »

Wednesday, September 07, 2011



I love having digitized information, especially the "printed" word; but reading on a screen is not a complete replacement for holding a book. I think it has something physiological to do with the written word being the product of hands: when the hands are physically engaged in the reading, the brain more fully gets the information.

You left out the #1 reason Christians liked the codex:

You can't verse-sling from a scroll.

Stephen Sparrow

Thanks Carl, you have just saved me a bundle.

Elizabeth D

I like sewn softcovers on acid free paper of very good Catholic books, there is something satisfying about that and then (especially if you don't mark up the text which nobody should do, at least not too much) you can easily give the book to someone else who might benefit from reading it, this is not so with eBooks. Long live the codex!


My family "gifted" me with a Kindle, too, and I find it very useful -- for certain uses.

Emphatically, it is not convenient for a researcher to use when mining primary sources. But it works well for narrative, which of its nature tends to be linear. This is so for fiction, but also some non-fiction. For example, I am reading Morgenson and Rosner's "Reckless Endangerment," which narrates the story of how the financial crisis of the last few years built up. (They get it mostly right.)

And at a moment's notice, I can switch over to read a short story I've downloaded, and even dip into the Summa. But if I have to use the Summa as a source for an article or book chapter, I find that I really have to have the printed volume to work with.

So carry it with you to read in the doctor's waiting room. Set it aside when you are writing. It's a nice little two-door you can run around town in, but don't ask it to haul heavy goods.


I bought a Kindle to read the Holy Father's writings.

I have converted to kindle format a substantial number of his writings freely available on the Vatican website.

It's an amazing device for that and I have been able to enjoy reading many of the Holy Father's writings, instead of trying to print 100s of pages.

Jason Fairfield

I have to admit, there are benefits of having an e-bible.

At the beginning of this year, I purchased a daily bible, the kind that has the entire thing is divided into daily readings. I'm sorry to admit, it was difficult for me to keep up, and it came to the point where I was approaching 3 months being behind.

But when I recently got a new smartphone, I purchased this wonderful Catholic app named iPieta (available for Android and IPhone). For next to nothing it has writings from multiple saints (including many, if not all, of St. Augustines works) and the Douay-Rheims Bible. I find it's much easier when in prayer to just get the phone out and read a few chapters of the bible and a spiritual work (currently working through Confessions.) I must admit I am grateful for that, if I do nothing else with my smartphone that alone justifies the purchase.

But yes, there is still much dignity in having the book, and to be quite frank, by doing so it will be easier to support local independent bookstores by doing so.

Thanks for the article, good read.


My love for books began some time in grade school. I still remember the thrill of anticipation I felt holding an unbroken volume of Hardy Boys adventures fresh from the bookstore. And the exhilaration I felt holding one of my father's mustier boyhood treasures, usually one of the Cappy Dick adventures published in the twenties or thirties, or one of Cooper's dust-encrusted Leatherstocking classics that had been fished out of the attic.

I vividly remember -- indeed, I cherish -- the feeling of holding so many, many beloved books. I'm talking about the compact edition of 'Prester John' in junior high, the Puffin edition of 'The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe' in sixth grade, the impressive heft of the Poe compendium with which I whiled away my eighth-grade study halls, the tidy English hardcover edition of 'The Hobbit' that I thought was so thick at the time, and so many more.

By contrast, the ebook devices I've handled seem thin, transparent, tinny -- almost desiccated.

I have nothing but esteem and affection for Mr. Olson's saintly and beautiful wife. Yet I can't help wondering if his gift of Kindle might actually be an ulterior -- yet very understandable -- effort to constrain his print spending.

Just speculating here.

(Please note that my being old might would considered by some a conflict of interest since this is a relatively new technology.)

The Egyptian

I cannot believe no one has posted this yet, could not find the english translation but the subtitles will have to do

Medieval helpdesk

says it all

J. F. O'Neill

I have published two Bibles on the Kindle (Douay-Rheims, Challoner revision, and the Clementine Vulgate).

I made them mainly for devotional reading because of the limitations, and strengths, of the Kindle and associated applications. While one cannot flip around easily, one can search it easily and, more importantly, sync one's progress across many devices. I do not carry my Kindle everywhere, but I carry my phone everywhere. I can start reading a novel, or devotionally speaking, The City of God by St. Augustine or some other such work, and resume my reading at any point during the day regardless of whether I am on my computer (using the Cloud Reader in Chromium), using my Kindle, or using an Android device.

When I study scripture, I study in a book or in a hyperlinked document online. When I read, the Kindle has the advantage because the "book" exists in many places and takes no space and my progress (even notes and bookmarks) are also found in all those manifestations.

That is why I have many books, both in codex and in digital formats.

Many people talk about the "feel" and "psychology" of holding a book. That seems to be a way of saying "I am not used to e-books yet" or "I am stubborn". When reading, we do not really care about the format. In fact, we prefer to not think about it. A good binding is a binding you don't notice when reading. A good paper is a paper which does not distract you by its feel, discolourations, etc. The Kindle device is very easy, in linear reading, to ignore.

David K. Monroe

I love my Nook Color and it has proved to be very advantageous as we are expecting a second child and we had to unload more than half of our book collection to make room. Ebooks are a godsend for people like me who love to read lots of books but simply don't have the shelf space to accomodate them. And let's face it - not ALL books need to be experienced in hand-sewn bindings with acid-free paper.

Bill Genereux

I have a Kindle 3 as well, and I enjoy many of the benefits of digital text, such as keyword searches, etc. But yes, it is frustratingly tedious to use as a study text. I've long since given up on knowing what book, let alone chapter or verse I'm currently reading when I read my eBible. I think an Ignatius Bible app with additional functionality would be much better than simply having the e-text.

Which leads me to another idea. I've thought about having my Kindle blessed as it contains a bible, and numerous other religious texts (and many non-religious as well) but I didn't know how my priest would respond. It IS a bible, in a sense, is it not? Just curious if anyone else has thought about this aspect of life in the digital age?


Sp Botticelli's Madonna of the Book is
— historical?

J. F. O'Neill

I have had a discussion about this (the electronic device holding a sacred book in a digital form) and my conclusion was that the device was not the same as sacred text.

The key I think is that a scroll, codex, or any other permanent marking makes the marked material part of the book by its nature. If the material goes, the text goes, and the text cannot be exist without the material. However, digital works are electronic codes which are interpreted and displayed. That code can be copied without anything changed or lost. The text exists as electronic switches holding a mutable value which is interpreted by hardware/software to cause a screen to display a certain pattern. So, this would be like if one wrote out the entirety of scriptures in sand on a beach.

For electronic devices like the Kindle, it is an abstraction of the concept of a "book". It is like an old wax board they used for teaching in ancient times. One could easily erase it and write anything on it. It would be like memorising the text. One's physical brain is not considered to be a Bible because the data is stored in neurons temporarily.

I think the digital age reveals the underlying ideals of what a "book" is. It is not what stores it. It is text, but not any particular manifestation of text. The words matter, not what is storing them. Now that we have separated the "book" from the means of storing it, this breaks a few historical expectations, but the idea is the same.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Ignatius Insight


Ignatius Press

Catholic World Report


Blogs & Sites We Like

June 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad