On books

I still buy them, and I still like to read them. They are simple and portable, and you can read them on an airplane without awakening the ire of the cabin crew. They pile up a bit around the house, but only because I’m interested in what’s between the covers–poetry, novels, short stories, plays, essays, biographies–you get the picture, lot’s of things are contained within the covers of books. The book is a rather old invention, moving on towards six hundred years since the invention of the printing press and the modern book. Technology is moving forward, however, and many people read books on their phones, tablets, and computers, skipping the paper support completely. More and more used books are going to recycling, and I’ve noticed a significant decline in the quality of the paper in current trade paperback editions. Hardbacks, those strange dodo birds that bibliophiles collect are everyday more expensive and a little bit rarer. I think that real bookstores have about another ten years before everything is bought digitally on-line with no paper supports. Paper books will go the way of vinyl records–though they will continue to exist, fewer and fewer people will either want them or buy them. In the meantime, I love my books, and I will continue to buy them, write in their margins, leave them scattered about the house, and indulge myself in the ancient analogue technology that brought us the book: ink, paper, sweat, and ingenuity. There is no magic in a digital tablet.