The ebook revolution is a silent one. Few have noticed that digital reading has done away with the verso, the left-hand page of an open book.

Verso folio, ‘on the turned leaf’, the humble Latin ablative absolute of the unwieldy page, the leaf always pivoting, as though always on the run.

Is the verso important? I think it is.

Without it, reading would never move forward. To read is to turn the page, and to turn the page is to confront oneself to the flipped page, the folium versum. A book without versos is not one where the versos are blank, but one which reduces itself to a stack of pages forever stuck in doleful immobility.

The verso is always the harder one to read, and, if you’re writing in a notebook, the hardest to write on.

The screen turns the verso into a perpetual recto, a right-hand page. The open book makes way for the unlocked device, the bright screen eliminates the need to flip through the pages.


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