Dear Dr. Boli: So the other day at work I was talking about visiting a bookstore, and the woman I was talking to said, “These days I read all my books on a device.” And I said, “That’s nice,” but I really had no idea what she was talking about. I mean, I thought reading a book was about the simplest thing you could do. What kind of “device” do people use to read books? —Sincerely, Ned Ludd, Anstey.

Dear Sir: Your colleague probably means something like the device the poet Horace is using in this woodcut from 1498:

Scribe at desk from 1498

It’s rather handy for reference books, and modern versions are available from various manufacturers, although usually without the attractively spiral-turned swinging arm.