Books Will Never be Replaced Essay examples

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Books Will Never be Replaced

What is it about a book, the physical book, the tangible reincarnation of an author that allows us to believe it will continue to be revered and regarded even in our age of computerized information? How can we be sure that, just as the clay tablet gave way to the scroll and bound book, the faith we have placed in paper editions will not be improved upon with the microchip? It may be that for all our attempts to squeeze and shrink information into screens, to encapsulate a world of knowledge into the size of a suitcase, to create a communications device which is always targeted at fitting into the palm of one's hand, there exists a hand-held favorite already which has worked itself inextricably into the
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Ovid is not the only one. For centuries, authors have trusted that paper life is somehow timeless, a "monument more lasting than bronze" of which another Roman poet, Horace, spoke. It is strange that we invest such faith in paper. Paper is one of the thinnest vessels of trust, to be sure, for all its fragility and sensitivity to time. The very mention of library fire at Alexandria makes us nervous about the transient nature of all knowledge. It is the "Dream of the Arab" in Wordsworth's Prelude, a nightmare that some catastrophic flood or holocaust might wipe out all collected human understanding which must "lodge in shrines so frail." And indeed, though many of Ovid's book-sons have come down to us, one of his daughters, the tragedy Medea, remains lost.

So why do we continue to put our faith in books? Certainly, one answer is that through replication and distribution we might avoid the realization of Wordsworth's nightmare. Paper, we have always believed, is a renewable resource, and the libraries of any country provide a tacit vigilance over the treasures of human finding. Is the thought of a computerized library any less worrisome, since computers require a great deal more energy and expertise to keep in order? Imagine the irony of some cataclysmic worldwide computer crash or power failure wherein the store of human knowledge, our only refuge against the sands of time, would be forever wedged in silicon. Paper,
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