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Re: Books of the Future

Thomas Larque wrote:
> Nobody, but nobody is going to persuade me to
> throw out my library - or stop me buying more paper
books.  And if everybody
> else stops reading paper books - which isn't likely
to happen in my
> lifetime - then, well, as long as current supplies
hold out secondhand book
> prices are going to plummet.  Great.

I don't want to sound like a naysayer, because I adore
books. But what if you simply couldn't buy the paper
books you wanted? I can't help thinking about the fact
that all of us have seen one format replace another in
this lifetime, in a different media, when the CD
succeeded the LP.

Lots of people wanted vinyl to remain viable:
retailers, artists who didn't want to do tiny
CD-booklet art, turntable manufacturers, pressing
plants, vinyl fetishists. If just one link in the whole
vinyl manufacturing and distribution chain had decided
not to go along -- and jukebox operators were probably
the industry holdout -- things might be different. But
not too gradually, the whole industry just...changed.

Collectors thought they'd have access to both CD and
LP, and for a few years, in a transitional period, they
did. Now, though, while you can still find vinyl both
new and used, it's choice that has suffered. Imagine
wanting a copy of a new translation of an older
text...and finding it only available electronically. It
could happen. (I still regret not buying that Feelies
LP when I had the chance.

Yes, people still press vinyl, but in limited
quantities. And just a few years after the end of
large-scale vinyl pressings, secondhand CD shops are
more common than those which carry vinyl. And as always
when something becomes scarce, the good stuff becomes
fairly pricey. Buy an old blues LP lately? Occasionally
someone does sell off a whole collection, but it really
is amazing the way the format has by and large
disappeared or become hard to get. The public is simply
not interested in vinyl anymore, even when it is

So I wouldn't completely rule out the disappearance of
the book from the world as we know it...we the
collectors will want to have them around, and on a
rainy camping trip earlier this weekend, I sure was
glad to have paper and not electronics, but the general
public is a different beast, and that's not even
considering what the book business itself might want...
who can say how things will go?

Barb Coddington

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