People of the book, such as I, not only believe that the replacement of the page by the screen will alter human character, thin it out, empty it of depth, but secretly hope this happens. A deterioration in human character consequent upon the demise of the book will be, for the inveterate reader, an apologia pro vita sua. For we who have spent so much of our lives with, and even for books secretly derived a sense of moral superiority from having done so. This is obvious from the fact that no one says “Young people nowadays do not read” in a tone other than of lament or, more usually, moral condemnation. A person who does not read—and for us reading means books—is a mental barbarian, a man who, wittingly or unwittingly, confines himself to his own experience, necessarily an infinitesimal proportion of all possible experiences. He is not only a barbarian, but an egotist.
– Anthony Daniels, “The digital challenge, I: Loss & gain, or the fate of the book“
I loved this article from The New Criterion. Never before has anyone captured so perfectly everything I feel about literature — the sense of escape it provides, the addictive quality of consuming whole pages, and the feeling of grief coupled with reluctant acceptance at the realization that the printed book is fading into obscurity, taking with it something profound.
The article is an ode to bibliophilia and a personal look at the impact of technology on books. It’s a much-talked about topic, but this isn’t about predictions and numbers. It’s just a man who loves his books.
Probably unlike him, I own a Kindle, and spend hours reading all sorts of things on screens of all kinds. It can be convenient. But nothing will ever replace a book. In fact, I never buy anything of real value for my Kindle.
A good book must be experienced, touched, leafed through, dog eared, and so forth. Most importantly, for me at least, they must be owned. One of my proudest possessions is my personal library (which I imagine that my grandchildren or some imaginary person will someday pore through while marveling. Yes, I know I’m deluded. See Daniels’ note on this)
While my collection is unlikely to amount to anything more than a source of personal joy, I sincerely hope that books will always have a place in the world. At least long enough for my children to experience them.