Very cool profile of Matthew Carter

Russell Valentino

Probably an odd thing to put in a blog post (though no odder than naming a blog 'Paper cuts'): This from a recent profile in The Economist about the creator of the fonts Georgia and Verdana: "Mr Carter doesn't own an iPad, Kindle, or other reading device, as he is waiting for them to mature. (He does own an iPhone.) He frets that, as things stand, reading devices and programs homogenise all the tangible aspects of a book, like size or shape, as well as font. They are also poor at hyphenation and justification: breaking words at lexically appropriate locations, and varying the spacing between letters and between words. This may sound recondite but it is a visual imprint of principles established over the entire written history of a language. 'Maybe people who grow up reading online, where every book is identical, don't know what they're missing.'" The rest is here: I'm sure we're not the only ones to notice that plenty of people know what they're missing. We see it at AWP, when our letter press broadsides sell out, and where people come up to touch the pages of the latest issue.

In that spirit, a new book arts MFA: Where the texture of a work is rarely a metaphor. And in a similar spirit, this from Leah McClaren's editorial in The Globe and Mail: "In the era of Kindle, Kobo and iPads, we have become literary pod people. While movies and music can still be a shared experience, book consumption is necessarily a solitary pursuit. Old-fashioned books can be passed around in a way that personal e-readers cannot. You might lend your friend a paperback, but would you lend them your entire library (especially one they might destroy by dropping it in the bathtub)? Sharing (or better yet stealing) the reading experience is no longer an option. Book buying, by extension, has become an impersonal exchange. Soulless gift cards and instant e-certificates are, of course, the only option when there is no specific book object to wrap. But giving gift cards in a long-term relationship is depressing. It's like saying, 'Here's 150 Amazon dollars. That's how much I love you. Please adjust to reflect my portion of the mortgage payment.'” The rest: I'm curious about the focus on book buying and the quick slice through the reading experience. Does it have to be solitary? I'm reminded of the story about Bishop Ambrose told by Augustine to the effect that he had the most remarkable manner of reading without making any noise. We can translate this: Augustine thought it remarkable that Ambrose read to himself, which means most people did not. E-books aren't any more impersonal than print ones. You can read either kind aloud. To each other, I mean. I know, way radical, and so, well, ugh, social!