Train to Bordeaux and the Intangible

Train to BordeauxWhenever Cedric needs to know a fact and read the references, he needs to set the bookmark in between the pages, close the book, handle it awkwardly and review the final pages. He cannot help but feel like a enthusiastic, albeit rather frustrated Neanderthal. Sometimes he gets that feeling that a particular idea has already been exposed, say eight chapters ago, but it is almost impossible to find the source. So, if Cedric is feeling particularly obsessive, he might resort to search for it page by page. He hardly ever succeeds and gets depressed, or he scratches his head frantically and sometimes he even howls.

Digital habits make it increasingly hard to read the old fashioned way. Especially when the reading material has certain ramifications. We have become accustomed to jumping from page to page, hypertexts, procrastination, multitasking and so on. Getting back to paper books is like kindling a fire with a flint. In any case, eBooks do not seem to make much way in the market. There is this device called Kindle that has threatened to impose itself in the market, but that never came to pass.

Whatever the reasons for the delay, as far as Cedric knows, publishers in France do not want to suffer the same fate as records. So the biggest publishing groups seem to be trying to delay as much as possible the release of electronic books because they have not yet discovered how to earn money while the written material is intangible (as is already the case with music and films). Thirty years ago the biggest enemy of capitalists were the commies. How happy the directors of RCA Victor must have been, thinks Cedric, when records were pressed in vinyl or shellac. When you wanted to hear a song, you had to buy the whole LP. With what love they must have smoked their cigars and counted their money.