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Friday, December 16, 2011

John Ramsey Miller

I've been thinking about books. Magazines. Newspapers. Sales Brochures. Mail.

I have stacks of books, magazines. I have a storage room filled with boxes of books. I have a wall-length book shelves packed with hardcovers. I don't know that I'll ever again open most of them. I'm not sure I've ever opened a lot of them. The pages of the newer hardcovers are yellowing, the older ones were printed on better paper with less acids. A Russian edition of one of my books was printer on what looks like tabloid pulp. I'm slowly turning against paper books. I've decided that I might be ready to face the new world where books are delivered through the air like lethal arrows were delivered to massed armies a long time ago. I'm not talking plains Indians firing a few at settlers and cavalry units, but more like Medieval armies where archers would loose thousands of arrows that would rain down like steel-tipped rain. Wow, and ouch.

I have a Kindle. I also have a Google Android "A-4 Panaramadingdong" with a 7" screen. My wife bought a Kindle Fire that we promptly passed on to our 4-year-old screen-addicted grandson for him and his family. Christmas gift. We are giving our other grandchildren the Google color-screen thingamabobs for reading and gaming for Christmas. They are dang near cheaper than a box of Lincoln Logs. And they are not just gaming devices, but a delivery device for books.

For a moment let's look beyond the typical "coot-ish" argument of "Owww, I must have the feel of a book, the aroma of paper and ink, the sound of pages turning. I need an actual book in my hands for the experience, blah, blah..." Hopefully the days of physical books are going away, and my suggestion is "Git ov'r it, y'old farts!" Okay, fellow old farts. I'm sure people, all now dead, felt the same way about the demise of clay tablets, cave drawings, scrolls, and smoke signals. Backordering was invented in the days when people wrote books one copy at a time.

I think I have boiled down the major reasons to turn away from the printed book for once and all time. There are just ten listed here but I have two others I'm holding back so I won't have twelve on the list.

1) Libraries will no longer require huge buildings since the e-versioning of the books in the Library of Congress will fit into a single-wide with enough room left for a few reading TV trays. In these days of lowered city budgets, it's great when one window unit can cool an entire library. No more cricked-up necks from browsing book spines in the library stacks. Plus librarians will be free to get real jobs or appear as contestants on Jeopardy.

2) The savings in "spine" string would stretch from the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis to the far edge of the known Universe. This saved string can be used for other things like making hammocks, for filling the insides of more yo-yo's, and giving towns across the country the ability to create string balls the size of Sperm Whales as a method of drawing tourists.

3) We will save enough trees to build fifty-seven Noah-style animal arks a week for fifty years. Plus we will have 250 million trees left growing which give us oxygen, and give birds more choices of places to perch, and squirrel escape routes from pursuing cats.

4) Fewer paper mills will mean like 55% less air stink in the rural south.

5) Reduced weight on the Earth's crust will mean a straighter trajectory and less wobbly course around the sun.

6) Fewer deaths of people and pets who are crushed by accidentally or purposefully overturned book shelves. Also an end of tripping over stacks of books in the dark. It is all but impossible to trip on a Kindle (depending on the thickness of the padding of the case). Also fewer hernias when moving boxes of books when changing residences.

7) There will be fewer rodents since there will be no making nests from the pages of books stored in boxes. The death of dust jackets will mean less food roach and centipede food.

8) More shelf space in stores for necessities like shampoos, laxatives, tennis balls, candies, and socks.

9) The cardboard presently being wasted on hardcovers can now be used to make disposable ping-pong paddles, the bills of baseball caps, and those "For Rent" signs that go in windows.

10) No more need for book burnings by fascists or wing-nut churches. Censorship of books can now be accomplished with a few keystrokes from a Government computer. In fact it will be far easier for officials to keep up with what everyone reads without having to look into our windows.

Feel free to tell me what you would have put on my list if it was your list.


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