Guillame Depping, Wonders of Bodily Strength and Skill

I know I don't need to tell you what you're missing when you read an ebook, or what you're sometimes missing when you read an ebook. (Sometimes, as with mass paperbacks with no thought directed to their design, you're not missing out on much by reading their sentences dumped onto a screen. Perhaps what you gain in portability and searchability is worth the tradeoff in these cases.) Well, this illustrated edition far exceeds the experience in pixels.

I'm not sure in retrospect which edition this was: I found myself so transfixed by the cover that I admit I didn't check. Originally published in 1885, this one may be more recent, though likely not by much. I found it in the Robert Parkinson Research Library at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, where they no longer check out books. For some years they would check them out by mail to anyone who asked, without a mechanism to ensure their safe return. Sometimes a fine is a fine idea. I never mind paying mine: I figure they're like a tithe to the places that have offered so much to me.

It's true that you will be able to buy Letter to a Future Lover as an ebook. When my editor asked me at first I scoffed (what else is this book about than books as objects?), though later I said yes, why sure, if we can do something different with the ebook. For starters the ebook reader gets a bonus essay with the whiff of a harange for reading the ebook version. You miss so much, ebook reader! But there are a few things you can gain: there's that harangue, and then you can read the book two ways: by clicking sequentially through the thing in its arbitrary alphabetical order or by following a second itinerary only the ebook offers.

Is the tactic worth it to lose the tactile pleasures of a well-made book?