Thursday, December 3, 2009

Robert Darnton's "The Case for Books"

Link to December 3 Harvard Gazette article, "In defense of books: Library Director Robert Darnton says the form will survive". (via Lazyfeed)

Excerpt: Next year, Darnton will publish a book with Harvard University Press about Parisian street songs. “The reader of the print edition will be able to tune in to the online material and hear the songs sung to their original tunes, while following text on the page.”

But this library leader also has concerns about the difficulties of preserving digital works: “Their hardware and software will become obsolete; they are fragile; their digits can unravel, and their metadata may not be adequate to locate them, years hence, in cyberspace.”

Darnton agrees that the physicality of books provides irreplaceable pleasure, saying, “They delight the eye, feel good to the touch, and even smell good.” He tells of a French producer of e-books who “offered its customers a sticker that they can put on their computers and scratch to produce a musty smell like that of an old volume.”

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