While I was at Computers in Libraries 2010, I listened to David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States (he gave one of the keynotes at the conference). During his interview (Paul Holdengraber from New York Public Library interviewed him), he was talking about books and what he likes to read … and mentioned that he prefers print books over ebooks (he likes the aesthetics of paper books).
That’s fine – I get that.
But then, the audience … at Computers in Libraries … applauded! Like he’d just won an award or something. And soon after, someone tweeted “Yeah! David Ferriero still reads REAL books!”
Help me out here – what’s the most important part of a book – the paper? Or the stuff on the paper? Anyone?
Do authors really think about paper when writing books (I know I didn’t when I wrote my book)? Most likely not. Instead, they’re thinking about the next twist in the story, or how to adequately describe that next thought.
Does anyone applaud when someone says “I still watch Super 8 movies?” How about if someone said “I still love reading print journals?” Nope. No applause there. No one would tweet “Yay! He still reads REAL journals!”
When I read something, here’s what I care about:
- getting sucked into the story (with fiction)
- learning something new or interesting (with non fiction)
- being entertained and engaged (with both)
For me, this happens via paper, my iPhone, my computer, an audio book, an ebook reader, or online. I’m guessing you’re reading just fine right now.
So my point? I think it’s time for us librarians to get over our paper fetish.
Content and container – the two are really, truly, different. Books are stories or a largish chunk of non-fiction text – novels, biographies, histories, etc. The format or container? This tends to change (though it hasn’t in a long time).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying books are bad. I’m also not saying print is bad. But I am saying that when lots of people applaud someone … at a conference dedicated to computers and the web … for favoring one container over another, it shows our bias, it shows our professional bent … and that bent needs to be adapting and growing and watching the horizon.
pic by Adrian