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Do You Love Old Books?

The faster we speed into the transparent, socialized world of e-books and digital readers, and the more brick and mortar bookstores that bite the dust, the more precious and rare become the books we leave behind, and the libraries that keep them.

Not just illuminated manuscripts, or books rolled out centuries ago from Gutenberg technology, but contemporary books printed in our lifetime have transcended from primary medium to objects. Like rosaries displayed or worn as art, even ordinary books will be desirable as time goes by for their nostalgia, for the way that they meld our interior imagination with our sensuality:  the touch, texture, smell, visual impact of covers, end papers,  paper, ink, typography, mingled with the fingered past of old possessions.

The readers I connect with most are not anti-technology, in fact you are curious about new ways of experiencing writers and their imagined worlds. But you also are somewhat romantic about printed books, especially old books.

I don’t think one medium will obliterate the other, just as several channels for watching movies co-exist today. I believe through new ways of sustainable materials there will be a place for e-readers, downloads, and the bound book. Except the bound book will be more valued because of a personal meaning of that work and author to an individual rather than as a simple medium: more of a companion that’s been elevated from the thousands of e-books you have to that one story or work that resonates with your personal journey: a talisman that can be thrown into a backpack, annotated in your unique handwriting, treasured on the shelf, and which will even survive dead batteries, device crashes, and vendor glitches.

Comments

  1. Glen Hewitt says:

    Your thoughts are elegant and true. I however do not think ebooks and ebook readers will doom the printed book. We thought that radio and television would do that at one time….they didn’t!! I for one rather have a printed book than read one off a screen!! To me books will last as long as we have imaginary places to go and dreams to follow!! What might doom the noble book however is illiteracy!! It grows as a dark shadow looming to extinguish the light of the book. Therein is true death indeed!!

    • Thank you Glen. You eloquently express why books will survive and identify the worst fears of educated citizen-readers and visionaries. The specter of a dark age of illiteracy is far more threatening than how writers will be read. Thank you for writing, your readership is most appreciated.

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