There was no thunder and lightning during my first encounter with an electronic book. I must admit I was a bit disappointed.
I sat in front of my home computer reading the beginning of 19th-Century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's "Thus Spake Zarathustra," one of the 3,500 works of literature stored on a single computer compact disk.
It's difficult to grasp that they crammed so much information from so many books onto a shiny 5-inch platter. I dropped the plastic case on the floor and it cracked. If I had dropped the platter, I might have had to kiss goodby the whole collection with the complete text of Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Brothers Karamazov," Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace," plus a host of other novels, stories, essays, poems, and historical and religious documents.
The third edition disk, published this month by World Library Inc. in Irvine, features text, illustrations, some video segments and an easy-to-navigate Windows menu.
You can search through all the works for a key phrase in a few seconds. I adjusted the screen so it automatically scrolled past my eyes at a comfortable speed.
When I came across the infamous sentence that read "God Is Dead," it struck me as something earth-shaking. But the computer text kept scrolling right by like nothing happened. It wasn't highlighted to stand apart from the other words. Lightning didn't strike. No noise thundered from my computer speakers. So I placed an electronic bookmark, a marker that makes it easier to return to later, with a click of my mouse and signed off.
Call me theatrical, but I would rather read one book on the disk that gave me thunder and lightning as I read a statement as dramatic as "God Is Dead" than 3,500 titles where I need to supply the special effects.
So I curled up on the couch with a paperback instead.