The Mechanic Muse — From Scroll to Screen - NYTimes.com
Lev Grossman on the transition from scroll to codex, and now codex to e-reader:
With a codex, for the first time, you could jump to any point in a text instantly, nonlinearly. You could flip back and forth between two pages and even study them both at once. You could cross-check passages and compare them and bookmark them. You could skim if you were bored, and jump back to reread your favorite parts. It was the paper equivalent of random-access memory, and it must have been almost supernaturally empowering. With a scroll you could only trudge through texts the long way, linearly.
As Grossman notes, a paper book is already a random-access device. An e-reader, although you can search it, might be less so. Errol Morris has said the same thing:
“I hate the Kindle… It is an attempt to erase 600 years of progress. A printed book is a random access device, a Kindle is not.