As long as I can remember I’ve liked books. I don’t just mean that I like to read – I do like to read – but I mean I like books. What marvellous objects they are, physical containers for whole worlds. I like the physicality, the paper, the binding, the smell of the ink, the printing.
When I was growing up, we watched this curious clay figure on television. Gumby. He and his pony pal Pokey could go into any book. What a delightful idea.
As much as I spend time in front of a computer, I can’t imagine reading a book on-line. I read the other day though, that Amazon has reported great success selling on-line books this year. They also sell a reader, called a Kindle. Apparently, people happily pay 250 bones for a device on which they can read online books. It’s small and light-weight and very portable and doesn’t suffer glare problems. Some people also pay for newspaper subscriptions which appear daily on their kindle. These are subscriptions in many cases to newspapers they can read for free on their lap-tops.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this would start to catch on. Our society is fascinated with devices and gizmos and the internet has changed so much behaviour in a few short years. Years ago, many people spent loads of money on stereo systems that would enable them to hear music with the best possible sound quality. Now people seem to be satisfied with compressed files pumping downloaded music into their brains through ear-buds. Go figure. With digital music so popular, a focus on digital books – and a new model for selling books – is not unexpected.
More and more of our experiences are being replicated using devices and monitors. There are even computer games in which a player can pretend to play a musical instrument or pretend to play tennis or golf. There are people who play so much pretend music that if they invested the same time learning a real instrument, they could learn to really play.
I expect there will be a day in which people will walk into my library, look at all the books and think, wow this guy is such a relic from the past. I’ve heard he even plays the accordion. I guess I can live with that. For now, I’m happy reading books in the normal way, and I’ll miss them when their gone.