Book, Bookstores, Libraries

Bookstores and Books

It’s Personal

Reading the Wall Street Journal article this morning, Bye-Bye Bookstores, I thought of my Kindle. I’m reading Great Expectations on it presently. It’s a stream of words without a body. Books have presence and identity and history like a person. As books lose their personal-ness due to Kindles and Nooks, simultaneously, human beings are losing theirs. Ray Kurtzweil thinks we humans would get along just fine dis-embodied, a personality, history, memories, all downloaded onto a hard drive.  In his digitized universe, we’d be a personality without personhood and human dimensions and bounds and future.

A Kindle Book is like this, all spirit, no embodiment. My Bartlett’s Quotations has an ancient teal-green, canvass-y texture, with a water stain. Red lettering is the text. Curly symbols dress it. It has heft. It takes space. It has been on my shelf for years. It can be a friend. The digital Bartlett’s is not these things. It’s all information, all spirit, no body.

As human face-to-face contact and physically authentic actions and adventures lose sway, so books, bookstores and libraries, the subjects of the WSJ article, tread the same ethereal fate.


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