The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 21, Number 8
1997


Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge Device

by Marielle Cartier
Executive Director, Alliance for Canada's Audio-Visual Heritage

The "BOOK" is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use even a child can operate it. Just lift its cover! Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere--even sitting in an armchair by the fire--yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

Here's how it works ...

Each BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. These pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs in half. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now BOOKs with more information simply use more pages. This makes them thicker and harder to carry, and has drawn some criticism from the mobile computing crowd. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. The BOOK may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. The BOOK never crashes and never needs rebooting, though like other display devices it can become unusable if dropped overboard. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open the BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session--even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers.

Conversely, numerous bookmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

The media is ideal for long-term archive use. Several field trials have proven that the media will still be readable in several centuries, and because of its simple user interface it will be compatible with future reading devices.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (Pencils). Portable, durable, and affordable, the BOOK is being hailed as the entertainment wave of the future. The BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

This description was forwarded to the Editor by Jim Wheeler, who got it off the AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) Listserv, where it had been posted by Marielle Cartier. When she was contacted at <brunant@cam.ORG> and asked for permission to reprint, she said, "Sure, this is [a] public notice that is now available on many listservs. Go ahead, it supports the preservation of a still well used media, the book!"

Another version, equally amusing, was published in the March 1998 issue of Morocco Bound, an Australian bookbinding newsletter, which reprinted it with permission from a publication of J. Hewit & Sons Ltd., the UK firm of tanners and leather dressers. It was originally published in Punch Magazine, under the title "B.O.O.K.TM --A New Aid to Rapid Learning." It ends with "An anonymous response" that rebuts three of the claims made for the BOOKTM, and concludes, "I'd suggest the inventors return to their consoles and do a thorough associative search of various data banks, like the rest of us, and forget this nonsense."

In my opinion, this little gem has already entered the realm of folklore, and is now in the company of traditional folk songs, fairy tales and legends. It has gained immortality--and immunity to copyright--by virtue of the attraction it holds for a great many people, and its transmission by word of mouth. -Ed.

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