Friday, August 13, 2010

The destruction of Libraries

A writer talks about what is very likely happening to hundreds of libraries around the world. The backlog of books in storage are being destroyed because it is assumed that the books will be found on Google Books.

The idea of destroying libraries because they will be found on a database somewhere was expected. With the introduction of eBooks and all of that stuff it was expected completely by economic theorists over a decade ago. Yet the idea of losing them so suddenly has had an impact on several people who love the feeling of books.

A historian explores old books to find information. The library is the natural state of a historian, and they tend to have a large supply of books at their homes. I have about 50 books just sitting around my room, these were entirely after leaving home to this school a year ago. Most of them are actually from the discontinued section of the schools library. It feels like a hunting trip to find things that no one else has seen before.

On the other hand, finding old texts is much easier now that it can be downloaded to an eReader like the Kindle. Let's also be honest that the price is way lower than some of the books that are required for school. Check that same link to see what some book sellers and dealers are trying to charge for buying the eBook.

So taking something from the past and changing it has its challenges.

Then we have publishers. There is Authonomy where an author can post their book and pray the other authors with the same desire like it. Then the eBooks market has two major publishers in Amazon and Google. We would include Apple in this, but it doesn't look like Apple gets it. They are using regular publishing companies to post their books.

The problems comes down to the reality that more people can write and would like to be published today then years before. Computers have made it easier to type and edit a book than in the days of Heinlein, Asimov and Kafka. This means that the usual means of publishing has hit a large snag. There is simply not enough people to read the slush pile, and not enough money to publish all of the books in the traditional way.

So the eBook wins, how people get published is unknown. What happens to the old printed books is unknown as well. We just know that it scares some people, and that libraries are going to be very different.

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