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Handing Down The Printed Word
As you may know, I continue to be vexed at the transition to e-books and paper. On the one hand it is such a wonderful technology and makes exchanging written words so accessible, but on the other I wonder what it will be like to future generations to not have “books”. Acquiring and building a personal library — of books, music, and eventually videos — was a part of my family’s tradition for as long as I can remember, and now we are facing the reality that no one really wants all the books that have accumulated in our parents’ homes. If someone wants to read a particular title it is loaned from a library, downloaded, Googled, delivered overnight from Amazon . . . No one yearns to dust and shelve the volumes that their parents left.
There is a VERY interesting article in Newsweek/The Daily Beast this week on just this topic. There are some things that will never be traced in the future when printed materials cease to be passed on from generation to generation. At the moment publishers are trying to figure out how to make “sharing” eBooks profitable, but the reality is that we won’t bequeath our library of downloads to future generations. And, if we DO, they won’t come with liner notes or marginal comments or flyleaf inscriptions. I suppose it will be fine, and our children’s children won’t even know what they are missing, but it is a little piece of inter-generational communication that will cease to exist. Too bad.