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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Not everything is digital



Not every book is in digital format and some of them most likely never will be. My own library has many old and rare books that have never been scanned. My lovely wife and I have always collected books. We went through a spell where we didn't read anything less than 100 years old. Read enough older books and you get a feel for times past. It used to amaze my English professors when my papers bibliography contained numerous rare books from my private library. Perhaps they were a bit jealous.

Back in '99 a good friend of mine passed away. I ended up with about a third of his extensive research library. Not only are few of those books available digitally, many are difficult to impossible to find anywhere. A number of them were printed in expensive limited runs for a small group of researchers. While the books are rare, the margin notes my friend left behind are priceless to me. The guy didn't publish as many papers as he should have. Pure research was more fun for him.

Then there's a friend of mine who's father used to have connections to the publishing industry. Browsing through he bookshelf one day, I found unpublished manuscripts. Two were from the Science Fiction writer Avram Davidson. There was also some unpublished poetry by Ezra Pound. Those one of a kind rare manuscripts are just one house fire away from being lost to the world forever.

While I worry about rare books disappearing, they may outlast many digital books. Think of all the electronic storage devices that are now obsolete and rare. Even NASA has digital records from the early days of space flight that they cannot read. A good CME from the sun and maybe all digital books are gone. Perhaps our paper books may be all that remains.

-Sixbears





25 comments:

  1. Something to think about for sure.

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  2. Did you know that Stephen King said that he won't publish his books in digital form? He said he would rather have a paperback.

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    1. Did not know that. Interesting fact, but you are always full of them. Thanks!

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  3. I like proper books myself. There is something tangible, and when they are in your hands they feel part of you. Electronic on this other hand is cold, yes you can communicate directly with real people on the other side of the planet which is a very good thing in my book (!) but electronic does not belong to me in the same physical way as a book does. In fact I am thinking to get my blog in book form, before blogger decides its spam and wipes it out! After all it's something I have been writing and it would remain for my children, something tangible of the old man!

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    1. Real books are different. Blog in book form for the kids sounds like a good idea.

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  4. Even though I have extremely limited space for real books, I have an eclectic and wonderful small collection. I have never read an electronic book and probably never will but I read perhaps sixty real books a year. I just love the texture of the paper, the type fonts, the page layouts and the binding. Electronic wizardry will never replace a good printed book as far as I'm concerned. I buy books from local retail outlets too, doing my bit to keep their stores viable...

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    1. I've only bought on e-book, and that by mistake.(darn one-click) I'll download and read free ones, but my money goes for paper.

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  5. I love books. When I was a student (longer ago than I'd like to admit) I would troll used bookstores for fun, always looking for that hidden gem or classic. The heavier paper just *felt* better. But I have to admit, living on a sailboat, it's pretty fantastic to be able to have a large virtual library- the digital format keeps us in quality reading when we are far from other options, as our sailing adventures lead us afield. The surprise to me when we made the shift to ereaders was how much the tangible enjoyment still existed. This probably depends a bit on the ergonomics of whatever device you use. The surprise for me was that it didn't detract from the pleasure of reading overall.

    This is great food for thought you've given. Thank you!

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  6. OH- I meant to add. When we moved out of our house and onto our sailboat, we had an extensive library to move along. It's really hard to part with loved books. The buyer I found was redecorating, and could have cared less about the content- she needed to "pave" a wall with books. That was a very low moment, when I realized our treasured books were being treated as wallpaper...

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    1. That would break my heart. When we eventually downsize, I hope the kids get the house, and the books.

      Even on our tiny sailboat, we fill it up with real books.

      Love used bookstores. It's treasure hunting.

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  7. There are just some books I cannot part with no matter what. If you do like to read some older ones that you can't find in publication, there is a website called "Forgotten Books". They have a great selection that are FREE to read on line. Give it a look-see!

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    1. Thanks for the lead. I'll check it out.

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  8. There's nothing more entertaining or enlightening than a good book.

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  9. One of the items that I preach about prepping for when SHTF. Do not store any media that you'll need for the long term on digital !
    I use a Kindle daily, but only for brain candy type literature. I can afford the loss of them.
    I want hard copy if I wish to ever read it more than once.

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    1. I've an extensive reference library in hard copy. E-books are for brain candy, like you said.

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  10. I never have now will read an electronic book. I like to hold a real paper and print book in my hands. Especially when I am researching something, I can put book marks at various places.

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    1. Over time, it surprised me how much e-books crept into my life. Still prefer paper, and all the keepers are on paper.

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  11. I collect old electronics books going back to the dawn of radio. ARRL Handbooks as far back as 1946, a copy of Bucher's _Wireless Experimenters Manual_ from 1920, US Army 11-series TMs from the 1950s. Good stuff in them old books that ya can't find anywhere else!

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    1. My father-in-law collects old chemistry books. He's a retired chemist.

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    2. Old chemistry books are like unobtanium. You really have to look for them. All the modern ones are pretty dumbed-down so little johnny isn't making Acetone Peroxide in his bedroom.

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  12. Sixbears,
    I own both a (first generation) Nook and a Kindle Fire. What I have found is that if you have not opened a digital book recently it will be stored in the 'cloud'. So, if your internet is down, you cannot access the book for download to the device. Also, when I try to read anything on the Nook, it now says 'cannot open this file in this format'. So, I no longer have access to over 70 books that I bought and paid for. And I can't even buy a new Nook as I understand that Barnes & Noble is discontinuing them. Kindle is better, and has a larger library, but there is still that pesky 'cloud' business. I am now in the process of replacing the books I want to keep with print editions. Something to think about if you are considering purchasing an ebook reader.

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    1. I've an older Sony Reader. No Internet connection so the books are in memory. Have then in epub, txt, doc, or PDF format -all things that can be read with other devices.

      Keep most of the books on a removable SD drive.

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