I've wondered likewise what you do with an e-book when you're done with it. File it away somewhere in the electronic bowels of your Kindle or iPad? But in that case don't you forget all about the thing, unlike a book you put on the shelf, alongside other books: collective reminders of knowledge acquired, joys and pleasures, sadness and sensations realized?
The library and the museum -- another place crowded with tangible objects -- are the symbols of civilization: places where the accumulated wisdom, not to mention follies, of our lives are on constant display, filling minds with ideas about ideas about ideas. A world without the "heft and musty smell of a hardcover book" would be an impossible kind of world in which to breathe, far less to thrive. Which is why the New York Times' grabby, overexcited forecast, mentioned above, is so, forgive me, dumb.
I see no reason that people shouldn't read Kindles or such like at the beach or the bus, if only for convenience sake. Are lovers of reading, nonetheless, really going to sit around for long stretches of time watching dots arrange themselves on a screen? Smelling warm plastic rather than pages and bindings and glues?
In a free society, consumers always get their way, so eventually we'll see about all these matters. Meanwhile, I am compelled, sonny, to cast my own ballot, upon which are hand-tooled in gold, with morocco binding, the immortal injunction -- Get a horse!
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