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A Recent Graduate’s Thoughts on the Future of the Book

It’s 2010, why read?

Danielle Burcham

Danielle Burcham

It’s 2010, why Books?

It’s 2010, why Books about Books?

Questions people may have asked you before. Questions you may have even asked yourself before. And really, how could you not question yourself, especially after seeing how we now live in a world graced, or bombarded (depending on how you want to look at it) by technology. I know I have pondered these questions before, and to me, the answers are simple.

It’s true, with so many new ways to communicate and receive information, the printed word is becoming a last resort for many. It’s easy to rely on the iphone, flip out your blackberry, or get lost for hours browsing website after website. And while these are all tremendous inventions and tools, they still cannot replace the simple practicality and beauty of the book.

Just the feeling you get opening a book or walking into a library is unparalleled. It’s never tiring. A library holds potential for education and entertainment. Each shelf contains books on every subject for people of every age. It’s quiet, peaceful, and humbling. The products of hours, even years of work, sit before you in bound pages. The thoughts and stories of people from all time periods, countries, backgrounds, and walks of life are enclosed between the two covered boards keeping it hidden inside.

But why books about books? All things have a history, and books are just another creation that harvest history. To be able to understand the change, growth, and purpose of a book only helps in understanding how important books have been to the development and chronicle of our world.  The creation and formation of a book is extraordinary and to think the book could ever be replaced by anything else is a misguided thought.

That’s my opinion,  but let me know what you think! Send me a message in the comments field.

-Danielle Burcham, Publishing Assistant

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  1. Betty Burcham
    July 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm | #1

    Danielle, You have great insight! Nothing feels better than “curling up” with a good book. Thank you for your perspective and understanding.

    • Danielle Burcham
      July 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm | #2

      Betty, I agree. Thank you for your thoughts!

  2. Ian Williams
    July 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm | #3

    While I agree that books/information printed on paper will probably never completely go away, I think that the electronic storage/transmission of data is superior, and probably the way things are going to go. Electronic data storage is more efficient, easier copied, and less subject to decay.

    Granted, I’d prefer to read a story in paper book form over reading it on a computer screen or other mobile device right now, but those technologies are getting better and more affordable. Once it isn’t a $300-$500 investment to read an electronic “book” (I’m looking at you, Kindle/iPad), and gets to be around $20-$100, I think we may see huge changes in how people approach “books”.

    • Danielle Burcham
      July 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm | #4

      Ian, I agree electronic storage of information is an efficient and useful tool to communication and learning. Computers and technology have allowed for tremendous growth of this country, and I do think there are many great benefits to having multiple ways to receive information.

      I also believe though that the book should never be denied its power and capability. Having a book is having permanency. To be able to open a book, leaf through the pages with your fingers, and hold the physical work composed by someone else provides a fulfillment that technology cannot come close to replacing.

      I also hope that both the book and electronic information continue to hold a place in the world, and that the growth of one doesn’t completely negate the other.

  3. laurarwilliams
    July 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm | #5

    I agree that having information online is very useful, but to me, it just doesn’t compare to the feeling of opening up a brand new book for the first time. And you can’t curl up with a Kindle quite the same way you can with a book. But I think there’s a place for both, and that both will be around for a good while yet.

  4. July 16, 2010 at 11:08 am | #6

    A book is a book. The feel & smell of the paper and the leather, the typography, no technical device can replace that. Nor that leaning back in an armchair when the only thing one has to know is turning the leaves, no menu commands, no buttons distracting from reading, thinking. As a result a printed book is read, electronic text mostly scanned.

    The history of a book, any book, where is that in an e-book, where could it possibly be? The name on the flyleaf, the ex libris, the annotation, all conveying something very particular to each copy, that knowing a thinking being, a bibliophile collector, a person of history held this very copy in his hands, got his thoughts, his relaxation from it. This of course also leads to the books on books, not least the sales catalogs of these collections, revealing the company some very copy once was in.

    Sure, the more or less unlimited availability of digitized content has its merits, yet how can we tell if this content will remain available even as long as the one printed on the notorious acid paper of late 19th/early 20th century? Besides, digitized content is dubious per se. A printed book can be quoted, it has an imprint, a name, a date, a page. It is very hard to fake any of these, and – more important – to distribute such a fake. Most electronic content can be modified any moment and one cannot tell as it is distributed and mirrored almost instantly, frequently under pseudonyms which hardly can be traced. Pseudonyms are not new of course and many could never be dissolved – books on books again! – yet in printed form they just left a few more traces.

    For sure, those who appreciate all the things a printed book distinguishes from any other form always have been but few, and even fewer requiring it for their nourishment. The majority always was and will be satisfied with the tabloid, the sitcom, if that much at all. And the Philip Marlowe telling a slightly pert librarian he collects blondes in bottles, too …

    As an aside it is remarkable that practically all of the fathers of the American constitution were men of the letter, too – and that in meanwhile about 200 years this constitution has proved to be up to most significant changes in all parts of life with very few changes – amendments – necessary. Just compare this with Germany’s Basic Law which was modified about 70 or 80 times in just 60 years (after 50 amendments politicians chose to stop numbering these to make it harder to see how volatile this Basic Law actually is or has become).

    I think it is a good sign that these ideas are still alive – and probably even more consciously and with a growing thirst for – in a generation that practically grew up with computers and internet, hardly knowing anything else. Nourish this, Danielle, for yourself and for many others you meet!

    • Danielle Burcham
      July 16, 2010 at 11:58 am | #7

      Jan, you bring up some really interesting points. I like how you emphasized that a book has no buttons, no complicated menus, and no complexities to distract you from the purpose of reading. And while many argue digital media can be easier preserved, I also agree that while books can decay, they do last, and have lasted for hundreds of years and on. I am happy to hear your appreciation for the history associated with the book, and I enjoyed being reminded of how our American fathers used paper and pen to create the frame and law of our country.

      It was so nice to hear from you. Thank you for sharing!

      • July 20, 2010 at 7:23 am | #8

        Danielle, I thought of more than the constitution just being written with pen and ink. Take Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton as some of the key figures among the Founding Fathers, they were active writers, political philosophers, intellectually active and refined men, Franklin even was a printer in addition. Likely this gave them an intellectual standing beyond merely political considerations. Certainly there are other aspects, too, for why the American Constitution lasted 200 years without many changes, the Anglosaxon common sense for instance, the constitution being a symbol of freedom where freedom means everything, also as a promise and perpetual chance, while in Germany/Europe freedom doesn’t mean that much for the majority, it’s security first. However, I suppose this leads off and beyond the scope of this blog.

        Having a couple hundredweight worth of encyclopedia on a single disc, with great search tools into the bargain, certainly is intriguing. There’s nothing to say against. However, for those who work with books as source & reference: try arranging three or more even on a huge screen without much mouse artistry in a way they can be used like printed volumes around you on your desk. Not to mention how easily one can move back’n’forth between distant pages by just putting paper slips into. Sure, a dozen e-book gadgets can simulate that – after having strategically distributed all the contents between them (I pass the technical and license barriers of actually doing so).

        Quoting from electronic sources is very comfortable with cut’n’paste for sure. Yet one tends to quote too much, having to copy it manually from a book frequently results in more condensed and therefore more precise quotes. BTW getting up and walking over to the bookshelf can help thinking by having the brain work in a less conscious and more relaxed way …

        Maybe we are in for a period when knowledge theoretically is most easily available anywhere, yet actually hardly used to its fullest, in some way similar to the Middle Ages when the intellectual achievements of Greeks and Romans had recessed into the scriptorii of the cloisters, only to come out again with Enlightenment.

        Anyway, many thanks for bringing this up, Danielle!

        Best wishes!

  5. October 4, 2011 at 8:31 am | #9

    “A library holds potential for education and entertainment.” so true

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