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Books of the Future



Books of the Future

Since the choices this morning were: to either clean up the studio or catch up
on filing, I decided to re-visit a file I've been maintaining for about eight
years labeled "Books of the Future".  There were a few laughs (remember "magic
eye" pictures??!!), but many more insightful observations from a host of
commentators on the emergence of the electronic media as a means to store and
share information.  I'm posting several highlights as separate messages.  Be
sure and notice the dates.  They are from 1993 and 1994.

The one thing that has helped me deal with new technology is to remember that
we don't have to make choices.  It's not an either/or situation.  We are not
being asked to throw out our leather-bound codices and to replace them with
electronic texts.  All we are being asked--if we are so inclined--is to create
new space in our libraries for new types of books.  Hey, I'm game.

It's been decades now since the end of movie houses was first forecast.  It
began with the introduction of television, then came videos and it is now the
satellite disk that is going doom movie theaters.  Wrong.  People who have a
TV, a video player and a satellite disk, still go to the movies.  It's the
same way with books.  The traditional book will not be replaced, but it is
fated to exist side-by-side with new ways of recording and sharing
information.

It's important to note that not every book and all information deserves
permanent ink on acid-free paper.  Is it possible that recording the vast
amounts of data being generated today in an electronic way will free up
increasingly scarce materials for worthier projects--our artist books, for
example?

Rather than replacing traditional books, new electronic books might create a
greater interest and appreciation for hand-crafted volumes.  If books are as
wonderful as we think they are, then they will not suffer from the
introduction of new structures and techniques.

I'm looking forward to having to having more choices in book formats.   When
the time comes, I am going to choose them all.

Ed Hutchins


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