Hi. My name is Daniel Crandall, and I’m a Biblio-holic. When I go into a bookstore I often lose the struggle against the urge to buy more books. When I moved, I had to unload 600 pounds of books (only a small dent in my collection) so the moving company’s forklift could get the storage container onto their truck. I wrestled with selling many of these books to a used bookstore. In the end, I traded them for store credit, which means, of course, I can get more books.
I find myself living Erasmus’s alleged quote, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”
I. Love. Books.
I’m not certain I can love Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes and Nobles’ Nook. Ever since these electronic reading devices hit the stores I resisted them like all good bound-book-loving Luddites. I snobbishly turn away from the Nook counter prominently located near the entrance to many Barnes and Nobles.
I would rather flip pages than press a button to “flip” screens. You can keep your bytes as long as I can ‘bite’ into a good paperback or hardcover text.
Libby Malin Sternberg wrote the first piece that makes me seriously reconsider my antagonism to this new-fangled technology. Ms. Malin Sternberg
“went to [her] massive library of reference materials, and, after many hours of exhilarating research, [she] came up with several missives sent over the years during periods of great change in the world of printed communications.”
Do I really wanted to be associated with Luddites of centuries past such as this:
Fifteenth century epistle from an older monk at an Alsatian monastery, Schwer-an-Merde, to another younger monk in a nearby German abbey:
“. . . . Please try harder to color within the lines, dear Frere Aefle. Your latest efforts were a strange mess of colors in odd cube-like forms that reminded me of images seen through shards of glass. But I must say at least it was better than the blurry pictures you did on the previous manuscript. That one created mere impressions, rather than a specific image. It made one feel as if one were viewing a landscape through wine-besotted eyes. Dear Abbot Pierre exclaimed after seeing it: Je vais chercher du bon vin a la cave. (Editor’s note: the loose translation for this phrase is, ‘This looks to be written with wine. I must search for some wine. Wine is good. Very good. Very, very good. Is it five o’clock somewhere?’) Such shoddy workmanship on your part will only feed the talk that our efforts are useless decoration and unnecessary toil, especially now that villagers are all in a fever over the printing machine you described. Gutenberg, Schmutenberg, my dear Frere Aefle. Even your most pitiful illumination efforts are more vibrant than the cold images of letters on paper I’ve seen coming from his machine. No, dear Frere, rest assured nothing will replace our artistic efforts. And even if Herr Schmutenburg’s device takes hold, I have been told by dear Friar Chuck that such ‘presses’ will still need laborers like us. He has devised a plan to work together with the Glutenbergs, something he is calling ‘the agency model,’ providing manuscripts to the presses for distribution . It is very complicated. But the important thing to remember, mon Frere, is to keep toiling away, perfecting your craft and trusting Friar Chuck and all the Abbots to look after us. . . “
Read more examples of past Luddites who struggled against “a change in the world of printed communication” at Libbysbooks. Ms. Malin Sternberg finally convinced me to seriously consider setting down the printed page and pick up one of these … devices.
I do wonder, however, if browsing a bookstore will someday be like wandering through an antique shop or museum where used books are carefully preserved. Will our posterity stare in amazement at how their ancestors held and read .such ‘weighty’ tomes.