A different but related issue is the apparent movement of reading itself from a primarily solitary to a largely social activity, a change that is not inherent in the new technologies but one that the internet and e-books certainly facilitates. I do think it’s true that the historical moment we live in is experiencing a major shift in intellectual production and distribution on par with the invention of the printing press, but the technology is not the most important element of that shift. More than technological changes, more even than changes in how we write, I think the possibility of fundamental changes in how we read is the biggest issue on the table. And here I’m more conservative, because I feel strongly that the gradual loss of the contemplative space of solitary reading—if it ever comes to that, and whether or not the e-book plays some role in it—would be an enormous loss to the experience of being human.
National Book Critics Circle: Adventures in E-Reading: Guest Post from Martin Riker – Critical Mass Blog