Thursday, April 15, 2010

State of American Libraries

Just got an email stating that ALA's State Of America's Libraries Report 2010 is now available.

Also this article on e-reading was interesting, especially the sentence "The book is the book, whereas, in electronic formats, the book often seems to be merely the text" which arguably is the most important part. I think this is entirely accurate. In the electronic format the focus is on the text as a delivery system and is flattened, technologically androgynized into bits that only look different based on how the physical book appears (cover/font). the e-book holds a book-like shape only because of the strong tradition built around the physical delivery system of page/text/cover/etc. The medium is (still) the message. The e-text can be anything while a book can only be itself. That is to say there is no concern of cracking the spine, deckle edges, loose sheets, good/bad binding. e-text is only a vehicle that would willingly subsume all individuality of a physical book into a manageable uniform whole. Granted many books look very similarly (color, size, construction) to many other books. but. to exchange the tactile and delayed interaction (where e-text is instant interaction-desire it/order it/read it/repeat) of a physical shelf with its representations of measurable progress (bookmarks, even) versus the fully infinitely reaching e-text with no discernible ending is to let go of a particular philosophy and approach to life. Perhaps less dramaticly e-texts tie us to individual screens. Do we need more screens to feed us information-cell phone, mp3 player, laptop/netbook, TV, mini-van, Wegman's check out line, the Price Chopper self check out line w/ touch screen interface, ____________.


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