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Re: [BKARTS] relevance of the book in the internet age



What Diane Baker said is key to the continued dominance of the codex book. I should print these parts out in particular and put them up behind my desk:

"Books are economical to create.  They are easily distributed, easily
stored, easily accessed.  They are user friendly.  One can put down a
book and pick it up, returning to the exact place with great
efficiency.  They can be shared.  One copy can serve many.
.....
Digitizing books has its uses, but is also dangerous.  How easy would
it be to alter a digitized book?  How could we tell?  How easy to
block access?  To raise the price beyond accessibility?
...
So, books persist because they are efficient.  Their physical nature
safeguards accessibility."

Champions of digital books (I think of digital books as dybbuks or dibbuks - dislocated souls or ghosts in Hebrew mythology) who promote the demise of the codex are sometimes their own worst enemy. They misunderstand much of what Diane noted above, and that the sometimes onerous proprietary formatting, restrictive rights management and expensive, short-lived reading devices (dybbuk boxes?) they support all make a codex better than a dybbuk for both long term and short term use. I do not see reading codex or dybbuk versions of a book more or less authentic than the other (if both have the same content), but I do see variation in utility and long term use.

Now, I do not mean to say digitizing content is not useful - we all know it is indeed, for a host of reasons. Not all digital however books are the same, and the presentation of information can affect that information's use and understanding greatly. So, I fear I must disagree with Brownson - the package is VERY VERY relevant. It is more than just cultural or aesthetic. I unfortunately do not have any bedside reading suggestions tho.

Gene Alloway
Motte & Bailey Booksellers
212 N. 4th Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
734.669.0451
www.mottebooks.com

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