“I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change.
“Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don’t have a crystal ball.
“But I do fear that it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.”
Sure, sure. You know it, Jonathan Franzen. The e-book is going to inspire the rise of fascist governments everywhere. And zippers are so easy to use that they inspire people to have immoral sex, so we should go back to button-fly pants, exclusively. And what's the deal with fire, anyway?
Franzen is always so worried about "serious readers." Serious readers were all he could talk about at Benaroya Hall when he came to town in 2010. I have yet to hear his definition of "serious readers," but I suspect when he pictures serious readers in his mind's eye, the serious readers he pictures look a whole lot like Jonathan Franzen.