The Bother with Books


  • Allison Craven


Books—those things with pages that one holds in a hand—will not disappear too soon. The worldwide collections are too plentiful to vanish entirely, and powerful forces of conservation will maintain books as historical artefacts in perpetuity. But the future production of these commodities will undoubtedly transform, especially as young and unborn generations increasingly take for granted the remediation of stories through HTML and digital prose, and the digital book will speak in its own voice through audio technology. And those readers of the future who will never know the pain of a shoulder strained by a bag-load of books carried to school or to university, and for whom a portable downloader will serve not only for entertainment but for all needs of information, books will likely be seen as just that: baggage. Writing, reading and literacy are the forces that continue, and with every new arrival of an idea and its interpreter, the book re-enters, its forms remodelled, its archives expanded.