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July 28, 2011


you have posted on the demise of books before and i have always risen to the bait on behalf of books as its an issue close to my heart..A few weeks ago i was at a week climbing camp in BC and as we, and our gear, were helicoptered in i thought its okay to take the extra weight of 5 books.We were there to climb but particularly this year there was a literary component.A friend there, knowing my tastes, lent me an anthology on running.We discussed one evening one of the pieces in it, Allan Sillitoe's The loneliness of the long distance runner.I lent one of my books to a guy in the next tent, Primo Levi's book on his experiences in the death camps, and we talked about that.On a rest day another guy showed me his Sony ereader and there on a remote mountain plateau cut off from all electronics he showed me how he could access 80 books.It struck me then that its over and books have lost.Reflecting on it i see it was lost already. With wikipedia and google I don't use reference books anymore for example.Still, thinking of my love affair with books, i thought of the last line of a loved e.e.cummings poem admittedly in a different context
"Then shall i turn my face and hear one bird sing terribly afar in the lost lands"
An over reaction? I think not

John, your story makes me smile and mourn at the same time. Never fear, you and I will hold on to our paper books until they carry us out of our living rooms; our generation will be justified in being old-fashioned in our old age, at least so far as aesthetics and comfort go. I agree, however: books have lost, though my epiphany came in a much less picturesque or dramatic setting. I think it was when I finished reading my first e-book, and when it occurred to me that all my problems of being in a French speaking country with expensive mail-order could be solved in one click. As a designer and typographer, the thought still makes me queasy, but with a big trip coming up, I know I'll be glad to have a collection of weightless books in my pocket. Funny, I didn't have any of this attachment to records or CDs.

well, my Rags (in their early twenties) refuse to switch to e-books probably because they obtain much of their reading matter from my bookshelves, since we share mutual interests and because I have a large and eclectic collection of books, many of them illustrated.
Added to which my son has a tendency to lose gadgets, phones, a portable DVD player, iPods all vanish when he is their owner...

I still believe that, for me personally, the risk of losing all of my reading matter to a technical malfunction will keep me away from e-books
Added to which, having spent eight hours of my day wired-in, switched-on and connected to a bank of screen, I have no desire to sit down and get cosy with an e-book when I come home.

I will continue to carry my bag of books wherever I go and in both of my houses there will continue to be a whole library at the disposal of guests

Ack, I just said entirely too much at PP. Those little windows don't show you how much you blather!

I loved the PP blog.

I think books will be passed on, hand to hand, for far longer than we'd like to think. They hold something, no? A friend of mine sent me just today a beautiful letter in which she described her feelings at having been given her beloved grandmother's beloved library, and in which she wrote what it was like to page through each creased and chosen book. I write in my own books in part for this reason. Books, unlike CDs, readily carry the memory and weight of the fingers and hands that have held them for hours, and all the more so if they've been marked up and inscribed. Books are histories. Ebooks have a place, but I am no more worried that they''ll usurp the printing press than I worry the internet will undo television. There will be room in the world--and a demand--for the printed word for decades and decades to come.

In any case, I think the perception that books are dying is the perception of a rarified few. The vast majority of North Americans--much less the world--neither owns nor can afford an e-reader. Library membership and circulation in the United States have both only been increasing. And given the statistics on the number of books being published each year in the world, I think, if anything, we're experiencing an outright glut of the things.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps we'll all end up kindled. I have a feeling, though, that I'll be hauling my book boxes from house to house for a long long time to come.

My one and only love is books....able to go anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Will they die? NO. I very much doubt it. No e-book reader can or will every show the beauty of a book. Holding it in your hands, turning the pages and reading a story or history or philosophy.

I go to three different coffee shops each week, places where people met, talked, laughed and solved all the worlds problems. Not today. In you go to the silence, people each and everyone with a computer open before them ready to boot but before this is done they must check their cell phones for those 140 characters that wiz in and out. But what I have never saw, not one, is an e-book reader. Never. In the beginning I thought soon because these people must have every new electronic item on the market....they are and must be connected. But no way, none.

So I don't and can't believe books will ever die and with the way the world is going the more we will need them.

Not all these people are young people who we all know don't read, except 140 characters, but please not a book. When I worked at out local University one of my jobs before I retired was to make sure that we matched a NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) grant of $1,000,000. It was not easy but it was done. Now retired I often go to the library, two block from my home) to pick up a book or two. Every time and I mean every time, I find a book that was purchased with that grant, which has been in effect for 10 years, it was never taken out. At lease one person gets to enjoy it. Me.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.