There’s a man in California whose ultimate goal is to collect one copy of every book in the entire world. And you thought losing twenty pounds was a good goal? Try again.
Brewster Kahle is the founder of the archive to save a copy of every web page ever posted, and in case that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he’s started on books. His reason? He wants to see books live forever. I second that, nay, I give him a round of enthusiastic applause, and a “hip, hip hooray”! Kahle believes that with the rise of digital publishing and ebooks, the printed word is quickly becoming obsolete. Soon, he says, many books will no longer exist in their hard copy format.
What a sad day it will be, when readers put down their paper backs and hard covers permanently, and refuse to use anything other then their new-fangled “kindles” and “ipads”. But how functional are these things? Picture all the places you can take your ratty old paperback, the beach for example. Heaven forbid you take your precious electronic gadget any place where sand might get into it. Are you brave enough to take it with you in the bath? I have spent many relaxing hours reading a good book in a bubble bath, it’s delightful, but occasionally the book is dropped and emerges very soggy. Can you imagine your horror upon dropping your expensive toy into the fragrant bubbles? Woops! Or perhaps you enjoy eating lunch with your book, dare you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while reading? What if you smear peanut butter on the scroll button? And you certainly can’t lend your friend that good book you’ve been reading, she’ll just have to buy it herself!
You will never find me with one of those horrid things. It’s a bit funny, really. My short story, The Locksmith, is one of the ten being published by Silverland Press in – you guessed it - ebook format. But I’ll still never get one. Call me old fashioned. I love my paperbacks, the cracked spine, and the dog-eared pages that mean a book is well loved. And when you get a new book, it’s in pristine condition, the pages unread, and the cover untarnished and glorious! It whispers to you of characters to come, of plot lines that have yet to unfold! Maybe you’ll be awake all night saying, “Just one more page, just one more.” Maybe you’ll think about it even after it’s all over. What new tale is around the corner?
I pray there are enough people out there that feel the same way. If there are even several thousand of us, I feel sure we’ll keep the world’s book stores running with our fanatical book buying habits. I can’t imagine ever giving up my wonderful books for some over-grown tamagotchi pet. I am never happier than when I am sitting in my library. And you know the very best thing about having all my books on shelves instead of some gadget? I can’t accidently leave my entire library on the bus.