Books, Tablets, E-readers and Typewriters

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Well, the debate about physical books vs. e-readers is on again. Recent articles about the pros and cons between books and digital books and “research-based” articles arguing the case against e-readers have cropped up, with passionate readers on either side of the argument. Then, there are those like me, who scratch their head about the assumption of a forced choice. For us, it’s not either-or.

Even though I have become dependent on my tablet and personal computer for both work and play I retain a fondness for typewriters (at this point one of my kids would say, “Typewriter? What’s that?”). Much of that has to do with the physicality of typerwiters as objects. Typewriters were a part of my growing up. My father was, for a good portion of his life, what was then refereed to as an office machine repairman (before the terms “technician” or “engineer” were tagged onto just about any job description). His business spread between shop and home, and at times we had dozens of typewriters and office calculators (the huge metal hand-crank-levered pre-digital kinds) around the house.

Even though I sold my last personal typewriter over 32 years ago, every once in a while I get the urge to get one, not so much as a writing tool as a much as a memento. Some of those old Underwoods and Royals have a certain aesthetic to them. And plenty can be found on eBay if you are ever in the market for an object whose obsolescence has rendered its practicality to that of a hefty paperweight. But, I’m not as ambitious as Richard Polt, a more enthusiatic collector than I ever hope to be. See his impressive collection here.

There may be some life left in this old technology yet, according to Neil Hallows. Read, “Why Typewriters Beat Computers” (BBC News Magazine May 30, 2008).

And just for fun, here’s a selection of Leroy Anderson’s piece, The Typewriter (turn up the volume on your computer!).

Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.

His books on Christian education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H).

Galindo contributes to the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans and to the Digital Flipchart blog.

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