Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thoughts on Books

Last time I visited Washington, D.C., I went to the National Archives to see all those famous historical documents--Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights and so on-- and I remember thinking how marvelous those documents are, not only because of their meaning, but because of their beauty. There's something about that old parchment and the hand-crafted, painstaking alignment of the text that exudes a majestic quality.

Farther along, I found the more modern-day documents, those that were typed on boring stationary and faxed over secure data lines.  And though many of these documents were equally important, the packaging made the words insignificant and flat-out dull.

When I think of the future of the book form, I'm reminded of my trip to the National Archives.

Is there really anything wrong with eBooks? No, not inherently. Hell, I own an ereader, and I even use it on occasion. But ereaders are dull, lifeless creatures, the equivalent to secure data transmissions, and they make what I'm reading seem insignificant, perhaps because the words tend to take a backseat to the technology itself (especially in the case of devices like the iPad--not ereaders per say, but they usually gets lumped into the same category).

As writers, we need every outlet possible to get our work to our readers, and new technologies allow us to distribute to the masses at a very compelling price: Free.

But it saddens me just the same.  Hopefully the day never comes when I'm visiting the National Archives to see that rare artifact called the book.


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