[Home] [Weblog] [The Bibliothecary] [Driving the Quill] [Library][Bookmarks]

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Good Book

The digital signal on the television froze just as our favorite team scored the winning points in the final seconds of the game. The browser suffered some unexpected failure and had to shut down. We found a radio station that plays all our favorite songs, but the transmission only reaches us on cloudless nights when we hold the tip of the antenna. Equipment needs to be repaired or replaced, or becomes so outdated as to be almost useless. We couldn't help but feel frustrated. Thankfully, comfort is near at hand.

A book is both the information on the printed pages, and the mechanism that delivers the information to us. Though printing was invented by the Sumerians, and the basic codex first appeared in the third century BCE, modern technology has not improved either form or function.

The information we receive in a book doesn't come with commercial interruptions or advertisements that pop up from the pages. We can easily navigate through the book using the table of contents or the index. Even without a pricey gadget, the information is available to us on demand, always appearing quicker than even the fastest download speeds. We can start or stop reading at any time, and page backward to reread or forward to skip ahead. We can even record our thoughts in the margins and highlight the critical parts. Best of all, these functions are right at our fingertips -- no remote necessary.

A book doesn't require any installation or set-up. There is no user's manual. Batteries, electricity, and gasoline are not needed; nor is an extended warranty to protect it against mechanical breakdown. Books are completely portable, without ever having connectivity issues or reception trouble. A bookworm might eat a tiny hole through some pages, but the book will never catch a virus that causes a loss of information or performance. And if a book does lose its cover, or if a few pages come lose, the information can still be accessed and used. A reader never need take a book back to the dealer for regular maintenance, or have a serviceman come to perform repairs.

More than just a container or infotainment, books have a pleasing aesthetic that just can't be found in a radio, television, or computer. Those things have their advantages, but none can touch the soul like a good book. What will we read tonight?