Recently, in another forum, the suggestion was made that in this day and age, and most certainly within my lifetime, the possibility existed that the Book, as we know it, would cease to exist. Reasons given for this were the availability and relative ease of electronic books and the increased media usage of a younger generation. Certainly, I am no stranger to the idea that technology (and surely you will agree that the invention of movable type which was to give birth to books in the first place is an early form of technology) will continually advance. Forsooth, I have seen the advent of both the cassette tape and the compact disc in my three and half decades of living. I’ve also seen the demise of the vaunted Sony Walkman cassette player for want of an iPod. I’ve also witnessed the invention of personal computers and their continued diminution to the point where we basically carry them in our pockets. And phones…heavens, don’t even get me started on phones! We had a heavy black Bakelite “murder weapon” from Ma Bell back in the day and now you can put one in your ear. And, none of this is to say that I rue the advancement of technology. On the contrary, I dare say that rotary dials and vinyl discs would not be nearly as convenient with Bluetooth.
But, books! Books are sacrosanct. They are the lifeblood of escape from reality. They are, aside from scrolls, clay tablets, and oral tradition, the original information superhighway. Books are a connection to other people and worlds that you simply never dreamed of accessing. And, those are just the words. Go, right now, and pick up a book. You don’t have to read it, you don’t even have to open it. But feel the weight of that book. Consider its heft. Now, slide your hand across the cover. Touch the spine and gently riffle the pages. If it’s an older book, put it to your nose and breathe deeply. That smell…the smell of decades, possibly centuries, of wisdom bottled like perfume within the confines of the cover. These are senses that are not available to Kindle and Nook fans. Just try to sniff an electronic file, or riffle the megabytes. And a book STORE?! Or a library even! By Jove, it’s a practical orgy of wonder and delight. Hidden in plain sight upon each high shelf, untold magnificence awaits under leather and parchment as row upon row of books is revealed to an unsuspecting reader.
I dare say that books will never disappear. There will always be the romantics, the dreamers whose lives are unfulfilled without the pleasure of a physical tome. The world needs books, ACTUAL books that can be held and caressed and loved by the people who love them. And, if you like the convenience of an e-reader, I can understand…but never underestimate the sensual experience of a book. It is an ecstasy that cannot be replicated.
See you in the funny papers!