Armchair Traveler in a Digital Age
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the luxury and convenience of having a vast, digital library at my fingertips, on my tablet, when I’m ready to sit down and read. But why is it Kindle assumes I want to start my new book, directly, from the Chapter One page? Will I suddenly forget that I am not holding a physical book if I must scroll through the pages that do not pertain directly to the story?
A book represents a nugget of time in the lives of many, from the first creative spark to, hopefully, publication and marketing. Months and years are spent crafting a story that may never be read by more than a handful of people. (Publishing 101 here). I have an appreciation for the folks involved and a reverence for the process.
I begin a book with a study of the cover; how does the photograph, graphic, or artwork and color set the scene for the literary journey I’m about to embark upon? Who is the publisher and to whom is the design attributed?
I want to know when the book was published; how relevant to the period of the text is the cultural and political climate at the time of the author’s writing? This requirement is not as important to me when I am reading a book of fiction as it is when I am not, but still, I like to know. It, is like a porthole into the mindset of the author.
Some authors say that penning a dedication is often the most difficult task in writing a book. Who to include, who gets left out? Many direct them to beloved family members and friends, while others reveal coded secrets of their lives. Still others offer dedications that are unexpected, unique, and interesting reads on their own. (Find some here and here).
The acknowledgement page, usually at the end of the book, is where an emotional connection with the author may occur. (I once discovered I knew the folks who helped make it possible for the author of The Celestine Prophecy to bring this work to the masses). Sometimes the author leaves heartfelt and endearing messages here to the people they cherish the most and, without whom, the blood, sweat, and tears of their literary achievement may not have come to pass. This is also the place where some authors, in an effort to establish a more personal connection, will address readers directly. For a cover-to-cover book lover, like me, this recognition is rewarding.
These personal requirements for beginning the journey of reading a new book can easily be achieved by a touch of the menu button, in the book, on my Kindle App, to access the cover and more. But why not just start from there in the first place? After all, if I were actually holding the printed edition of the book this is where the beginning would ensue. Therein lies the rub. In a fast paced digital world, where time is the ultimate commodity, it is expedient to eliminate the allotment it would take to get to the object of the task at hand; becoming immersed in the story. For the limited time one has to devote, everything else may be viewed as peripheral and unnecessary, but, at least for me, is an integral part of the armchair traveler experience.