Secular Cathedral

I wanted to post about this yesterday, but I needed time to formulate my thoughts and come down from the rafters of frustration. So you're up-to-date, you might want to pop over and read this article.


You back? Good. Are ya pissed yet? Let's talk about this.

I've got around 2000 books in my house, according to my LibraryThing. That does not include an up-to-date cataloging of all the magazines in my house. But, I feel it is safe to say that we are all bibliophiles here. True, we've been selling off our hardback collection and replacing it with the same books in "mass market" (paperback) editions. Lighter, smaller, cheaper. But they *are* still books.

Now, those who know me, know I love technology. I've got two computers (soon to be 3, I hope!), not counting the server which has all our music on it and will someday have all our movies there as well. I start showing signs of DTs if I'm not able to check my email several times a day. We've got surround-sound stereo in our living room, with all our computers, so we can get our geek on and watch a movie.

But when it comes to books, I want paper and ink. I want the feel of a book in my hands. I want the smell of a book. I want to stand in front of my shelves and browse, deciding what to read next. With all our advances in online-shopping, there's still no replacement for "browsing".

When I was little, there was no money for "trivialities" like books. If I wanted books, that meant a trip to the public library. At the time, that was the Stark County District Library. I measure my later childhood years by the shelves of that library. (Of course, returning years later after they reorganized the shelves was rather disconcerting!) Many summer afternoons were spent in that library (soaking up the A/C we didn't have at home!). How many times have I read a book because the title caught my eye while looking at those shelves? How many books did I read because of the monthly displays, celebrating some element of fiction, some breakthrough in science, some person of importance?

My concern over Cushing's choice isn't because I have a child there. My concern is that other schools will jump on this bandwagon before the concept has been proven to succeed---or fail. Why couldn't Cushing choose to keep the paper-and-ink books while testing out the newer technology? Why couldn't they wait a semester or two and see if the teachers and the students (and their parents) approve, before even considering divesting themselves of the real books?

I've shared at home my requirements for an e-book reader: paperback in size, opening like a paperback does. Little cards (like my Nintendo DS uses) hold the books. When not in use, the little cards have little "books" they sit in, on my shelves---taking up even less space than my paperbacks do! There's no need to store credit card data in my device. No need for GPS and wireless capability. Most importantly, there's no risk of losing my entire library when I drop the reader in the tub, while soaking with a good book! I want an Open Source format for the books. I will not support the publishing industry becoming more like the recording industry. Much like my library at home, many of my family members can be reading books from our home collection at the same time---without having to buy multiple copies (which I would have to do right now, with a Kindle or similar readers).

As a crafter, I rely on high-quality color pictures and graphs with detailed information in them to put patterns together. Someday, I hope to have my crochet skills up to par enough to take on Blueprint Crochet (already on my shelves!). [For a sample of what this book looks like inside, there's a preview on ScribD.] Not only does this book have stunning pictures, but blueprints -- in color. And based on one review, there's no point in clicking on the "I'd like to read this book on the Kindle" link because the readers can't handle this kind of book.

I take comfort in my personal book collection, now more than ever. If paper-and-ink libraries could possibly become a thing of the past, at least I'll have shelves of them for my family and friends to reminisce over.

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