A good friend of mine wrote a blog this week about the possibility of printed literature becoming an endangered species.  I remember the feeling I had when I realized my VHS tapes were defunct and my portable CD player was rather archaic.  I also know the feeling I get from holding a 10″ record, catching its aged scent as I place the needle to let anything from Louis Armstrong to Tchaikovsky teach me about times in which my current form did not exist.  While I do own an iPod and a computer, and while I admit I would have no readers at all if not for blogging, I dread a day when books are a rare commodity.

On a very basic level, I enjoy reading for hours at a time.  The eye strain and headaches I get from staring at a screen all day at work make me not exactly thrilled about staring at that of a Kindle.  What kind of book-burning name is “Kindle” anyway?  I imagine they could come in handy for students on a budget or anyone on the move without the capacity to carry paper books, but I enjoy being able to tuck post-it notes in my text books to more easily access the important passages.  I’m sure somewhere there is a highlight or tab function on a Kindle, but my compulsion for categorization requires various colours and codes.

On a more detrimental note, at least in my opinion as a bibliophile and history enthusiast, is the impact the “digital revolution” will have on our descendants and their knowledge about our world.  Envision this.  Some catastrophe causes the human race to thin out considerably, possibly even dying out completely in some places.  Centuries later, once the world has repopulated and formed new ways of thinking and doing, archaeologists dig up the ruins of our “modern age”.  They don’t find books that speak of our history, philosophies, inventions, and cultures.  They don’t find diaries or travel journals.  They don’t find photographs of spectacular landmarks, celebrated people, and every day life.  They don’t even find paintings.  Instead, they find useless chunks of plastic, glass, and metal in various shapes and sizes.  Unable to access any of the coded information, a world of knowledge no longer exists.  Our descendants will know nothing of the world that preceded them.  Our identity will be gone.  There will be no art, no literature, and no way for the world to know what we accomplished in our time on this planet.  We will cease to exist.  Convenience items like the Kindle, computers, and digital photo frames do nothing to serve future generations.  Once the power drains from them or the electronic components wear out they are nothing more than empty casing.

Some of you may not know this, but I collect old books.  I’m not sure you can call all of them antique, but I do own quite a few of those as well.  I care little about famous titles or how much they are worth to buyers or other collectors.  I acquire what appeals to me for no other reason than that it makes me happy to look through what children were reading in 1843 or what a housewife may have been taking a break with in 1937.  I have learned a lot about differences, and often about surprising similarities, in thought and form of communication through printed word since the days of Gutenberg.

While I have no problems accepting new technology and developments, I also hope there are others who love and revere books as much as I do and who see the merit in keeping the art form alive.

Go now, my friends.  Cuddle up with a good book.

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