I'll Give Up Books When They Pry My Cold Dead Fingers Off The Paperback
It's a brave new world in which we live. I'm not sure Aldous Huxley could have imagined it, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't surprise Ray Bradbury, and definitely not Rod Serling.
What I'm talking about is the next big thing in twenty-first century technology, the electronic book. In yesterday's Huffington Post, Nigel Hamilton, a widely published biographer and historian, posted a piece predicting the imminent demise of the printed book and the associated dissolution of the major publishing houses, all within the next two to four years. I fear the man is prescient, and I fear that it's another sign of the apocalypse.
In Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, he prophesied a world where books were banned and burned, where the mere ownership of a book was a capital offense. How much easier for such a world to exist if the books don't even have a physical form, but exist only as ephemeral wisps of electricity on a silicon chip.
I keep thinking about the classic Twilight Zone episode from 1959, "Time Enough At Last". Meek mild nerdy bank teller Henry Bemis, whose main love in life is reading, awakes from a nap in the bank vault to find the world completely destroyed. He's finally got the time and the privacy to do nothing but read…so he promptly drops and steps on his only pair of glasses.
What happens a generation from now if all the books save a rare few in infrequently-visited crumbling old libraries are in electronic form and we somehow run out of electricity? No more batteries, nowhere to plug your recharger? No one might much mourn the loss of Danielle Steele, but how many paper copies of Shakespeare would be left?
I have a code by which I live, and my wife and family know it all too well: Change is bad. There's been way too much change in my lifetime already. We went from innocent charm of 8mm movies to the wonder of video tape. That started with Beta, which came and went in a blink, supplanted by VHS, which ruled for over two decades.
It was a recurring ritual of modern life to head down to the video store on the weekend, cruise the aisles of comedies and dramas and action films, pick out a few, and go home to make the popcorn (which itself went from Jiffypop, to air pop, to microwave).
Then videotapes went the way of the dinosaur, and video tape decks, which had started at the price of a small car and eventually dropped to the cost of a decent haircut, became no more valuable than a paperweight. Everything was on DVD. Now Blockbuster is bankrupt and movies come at the push of an icon on your I-Phone.Continued on the next page