You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

letters

Will there still be readers in the future?

I read with interest Craig Fehrman’s article “Other ways to use a book” (Ideas, May 6), in which he describes how Harvard’s Leah Price wants to “restore reading to a larger social context.” Price predicts that our reading habits will drastically change, and that more and more readers will read from computers, iPads, and Kindles ­— something no one, she says, should fear.

I don’t fear machines taking the place of books, though I would regret not having first editions to collect, holding beautifully tooled leather volumes, enjoying the pleasure of turning a page by my finger, discovering someone else’s marginalia and smelling and feeling the richness of fine paper ­— aesthetic pleasures, I guess, that I can live without.

Continue reading below

What troubles me most about Price’s perspective is that she assumes that in the future there will still be hordes of readers. Having taught literature for 35 years, I saw a tremendous decline in readership among my students. Fewer and fewer wanted to read, and when assigned a classic such as “Moby Dick,” “David Copperfield” or “King Lear,” they turned to Monarch Notes and Cliff Notes — now no longer necessary, for synopses and criticism can be easily found on the Internet.

When many of my students complained about not liking to read, I had them write an essay about their dislike. Their most common complaint was that reading was solitary and demanded silence. Thus, it’s not so much a question of how we will be reading in the future as whether we will be. Even to read a Kindle, one still needs time alone and quiet.

Robert Waldron

Boston

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.