One of the research aims is the status of reading. Jesse says, “I can’t help but want a kindle” because he watches the travelers read with their fingers. I tell him I like books.
No, I don’t think extinction is near. The book, the tactile experience as a whole, is resilient. People will always return to touch and we might re-see touching. I think of Barthes saying that literature should try “to save its skin.” Did he mean the book? Did he mean the fleshiness of reading?
When I was little, I read everything by mouthing the words. I didn’t make a sound, but my mouth moved across the words. I think most kids do this right? We see them read with their bodies.
So, yes there’s so much skin: our own and the books’. Avery ripped apart Pat the Bunny, he tore into it with his teeth and the spine fell right out. The whole book is about touch: pat the bunny, play peek a boo with Jack, touch Daddy’s beard, etc. And Avery went right along touching.
For me, the book is all about touch and its status seems, in our most innocent play with books, to still be about touch. Jesse wants the kindle because he wants to collect, it’s still an object. But I do want to know how these objects are different and what’s at stake in keeping ourselves able to touch, interact, or—in Avery’s case—consume a book.