Codex or Screen? Cont'd

by Conor Friedersdorf

Alan Jacobs is still reading Infinite Jest:

Wallace is a writer of riffs, and I have often been frustrated by my inability when using the Kindle to get a sense of just how long the riffs are. It helps to know whether this is going to be a relatively brief one or whether it will go on for pages: having that knowledge enables the reader to adjust the quality of his or her attention accordingly. Again and again while Kindling my way through IJ I have been forced into awareness of how much my reading practices rely on this spatial awareness: not just knowing how far I am into a book (since the Kindle always shows you where you are in percentage form), but knowing when the next chapter or section break is coming. It turns out that that kind of knowledge has always been very helpful to me, especially when I am reading a difficult or otherwise challenging book but I never knew how helpful until now.

One aspect of the codex I like is the sense of progress I get comparing the thickness of what I've already read to what I've yet to read. The Web equivalent is that bar on the right margin, but especially when reading a lengthy article, it is often misleading about how much is left.