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The Personal Library of the Future

reliures dans un bibliothèque privée / bookbin...

reliures dans un bibliothèque privée / bookbinding: books in a personal library. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me first acknowledge that everything about this post is wishful thinking; the idea people will have the patience to read books in the digital age is almost laughable…

Books are a burden. They’re heavy, they’re bulky, they aren’t conducive to the modern lifestyle of economic refugeeism. They’re obsolete as tens of thousands of books can be stored on a digital device that has a liquid paper screen and can be purchased on Amazon.com for the price equivalent to a day’s labor. Some of us Luddites will hold onto our books, but eventually we’ll go extinct. But maybe there’s room for books in the future…

Social networking now defines our personal relationships. The bloggers and Twitter tweeps we follow, our facebook friends, or just the people we seem so obsessed with that we need to text them every fifteen minutes, they represent the people important to us. And a few of them write books. And because they are important to us, we feel the need to read their books. This is a good thing. (So good, in fact, you should go out and buy my book.) While ebooks are convenient and cheap, I think a lot of us will choose to get physical copies of the books written by our friends. Think of the books not as a means of storing information, but more like souvenirs.

To me, having a physical copy of a book a friend has written is valuable more from a sentimental perspective. Like photos or yearbooks.

Instead of having large libraries filled with all the important books, we’ll have smaller libraries of a few books, most of them written by people we know personally, almost all of them self-published, almost all of them not widely circulated.

I find the idea almost romantic, if I dare use that word. The great classics of the world will be with us as long as we exist. So it’s okay to not have a physical copy of Plato’s Republic, since it’s so widely distributed. But the books being written now by intelligent people who don’t have the backing of big publishers, they will benefit in the longterm from having physical copies floating around. You can’t serendipitously find a good ebook. But we’ve all found a physical book we ended up reading and liking that we wouldn’t have otherwise found without its physical presence.

At least, a guy can dream…

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