I recently started a post on this subject at my Webgrammar social networking site. Here is another wonderful response from writer, poet, educator, editor, and more. Guest post by Holly Jahangiri It will make me very sad to see them go. I like to literally curl up with a good book - and not worry about the batteries going dead. I think about this, in terms of history, as well. We can read manuscripts that are hundreds - no, thousands - of years old. Can you still read data from a 5.25" diskette from the 1980s? Color eBook readers are prohibitively expensive and hard to come by. And who really wants to hand a $260 eBook reader to a three-year-old? I certainly would not leave one in my child's crib, as I did with board books. What better way to encourage reading - to ensure that books feel comfortable and familiar later in life - than to scatter a few about in the crib for baby's entertainment? Books help to slow the pace of a frenzied day. Will eBook readers do that? Will those who control the technology control what gets carried forward - and can thus be read - twenty, thirty years from now? Or will eBook readers just lead to an Orwellian mess? Sure, I'd love to tuck an eBook reader into my purse (I prefer Barnes & Noble's Nook, personally). But the thought of them supplanting printed books scares and saddens me.
I recently started a post on this subject at my Webgrammar social networking site. Here is one response, with more to come. Guest post by Angela Allen I think books are on their way out, and it makes me sad. I think there will always be books, but they will fall into two categories -- the disposable paperbacks (the kind of trash novels you read on the beach, and don't care if you lose on the plane home - similar to paper cups that are used once and discarded) and the collector's beautiful gilt-edged, leather-bound tomes. As a writer and a technology nut, I'm watching with amazement and, sometimes, horror as this magnificent change materializes. Like you, I think the change in photography is a good, close comparison. But I still have those photos that I adore -- the ones printed "properly" on paper and hanging on my wall or sitting at my desk -- but I have thousands on my hard drive. So photos ... and probably books... will become something we only keep in physical formats when they are quite dear to us. The rest, the "dirty masses" if you will, will probably be in electronic format. On the flip side, I love that I can carry a couple hundred books on my iPhone. I think it's great that my one little pocket-sized device can entertain me on so many levels (books, movies, music, photos, communication, research, Internet, etc.) It appeals to my "minimization" tendencies. And, I must admit that the "flick to turn" graphics on a touch screen is pretty cool as a book reader. I like the idea of "digital paper" in a big way... but I like writing in ALL formats. I love words. Period. I admit that I miss the big and bulky, but tactile-silky pages of a hard-bound book for pleasure reading. I don't miss it for research, however. I prefer my research to be digital -- I like searching instead of scanning for hundreds of pages for the information I seek. What's happening with the publishing industry is similar to what's happening to the music industry -- we are seeing a change in the way it's approached. It's a growth and a change... and it's probably a natural evolution. I, for one, will always have a few prized books in heavy, old-fashioned hard back. But, I'm carrying more books with me now than I have since college, and I don't have the huge backpack or the backache I had then. Now, I have a pocket that's a little bulgy. It's a pretty worthwhile trade-off when I'm thinking in a practical way rather than an emotional one. What really makes me crazy is to have the educators devalue reading. To be told that "spelling really isn't that important, so long as you can sort of figure out what they are trying to say, since everything has spell-check now" makes me want to scream. And to have my 12-year old, who can read on a college level, bring home a permission slip to check out audio books, so she can listen to books instead of read them, makes me nuts. (This child has a book in her hand 18 hours a day -- to the point that I actually fuss at her for reading too much!!!) While I think she should put down the book to eat and to do her chores, she disagrees every time my back is turned. To encourage her to "listen" instead of to read is a sin, IMHO. This is the direction of books that bothers me, not the actual format for reading words. I want it to be READING -- not watching or listening -- especially in school. I like listening to an audio book while driving or while working out, so I can see some times when that's a great option. But it is not a substitution.
This just in from my sister, Jan Pierson, who lives in Olympia, Washington: "Life in rainy Washington State isn't always without its beauty and sunsets! I am blessed living on the bay and I know it." Jan is my gorgeous, talented younger sister who sometimes writes under the pen name Calamity Jan. She is also the archivist and historian for the Crook family, and runs a website to showcase and sell our late father's Native American photography. She just had an article published in the January issue of Arizona Highways, talking about our dad (Cal Crook) and his photographic talent.
Guest post by Ted Rushton Six libraries in Phoenix will close due to city budget cuts, another element of the effort by Mayor Phil Gordon to transform the city into a diversified high-tech center of America's economic future. It's typical Phoenix. Last week, the story of the cuts to city programs got half-a-page coverage in 'The Arizona Republic.' Last week, a football player retired; the story got four pages in the next day's paper, plus a special six-page section on Sunday. The newspaper doesn't run Phoenix; it merely tries to reflect what it considers important to its readers. Football, not libraries. As a baseball fan, I've watched fans stand in silence before the game, listening to the national anthem. It never affects the game. It reflects what people consider important. Likewise, 10 pages for a football player. Half-a-page for library closings, plus a dozen or so parks, senior centers and other people-centered facilities. It reflects what newspaper readers consider important. The 15 library system faces a 19 percent cut in funds, largest of any department. The city's 90 senior executives, who utterly failed to see the collapse of the local economy which began in the fall of 2006, will get a 2 percent cut. No executive layoffs are planned. It's not just Phoenix. Mesa, the state's third largest city, is also making major cuts to police services and other civic programs. Yet, Mesa is offering $84 million to build a new ballpark exclusively for the Chicago Cubs, who will use it for only one month of the year. What is a library? Isaac Asimov explains, "I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. "For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself," Asimov wrote. On Sunday, the paper had several pages to a "Let's Grow Jobs" feature in response to Arizona's economic decline, worse than Michigan and exceeded only by Nevada. For decades, Arizona's economy was based on illegal migrants in construction, warehousing and landscaping. The $1.4 billion trolley 20-mile car line, which gets $3 in taxes for every $1 in fares, is almost untouched. Trolley cars reflect the mayor's ego. Libraries house ideas, as abundant as lemons on a well-watered tree but with all the fruits of the world in one small plot of land. Sports is fun, Arizona emphasizes the pay-for-fun approach rather than do-it-yourself fun. Arizona has four major league sports teams; but, Phoenix will cancel its summer baseball program for youths. What is a library? Gerald Manley Hopkins describes it thus: Glory be to God for dappled things --- For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pierced --- fold, fallow, and plow; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change; Praise Him. What is a library? It is ideas. A town without a library is like a baseball team that never practices. In recent years, Arizonans have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build some of the nation's finest baseball spring training facilities; they are gems, well worth the money and well worth the commitment to the sports future. But great cities have more than playgrounds. Ideas deserve as much consideration, care and commitment. In Phoenix, the tangible value is concrete, steel and asphalt. Conservatives trust concrete. Progress is rubberized asphalt. Ideas are dangerous, as William Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar: Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights. Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous. An original idea? Hardly. Shakespeare cribbed it from a comment by Julius Caesar as written by Plutarch, which he could discover only because of a library, "It is not these well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and hungry-looking." Perhaps, like Caesar, the mayor fears libraries because they house ideas.