The subject of the future of books keeps coming up. E-books, whatever media, the inevitable move to rethinking the whole idea of a book would happen anyway. It’s a bit like saying “nothing will ever replace stone tablets”.
This subject came to mind as a result of reading the saga of the demise of Gould’s Books, a big Sydney book shop where I’ve been going for decades. I met Bob Gould a few times in a “G’day” sort of way, never got to know him. He was a passionate believe in the classic “educate the masses” ideals, and he did just that, for all those years.
How books created the future
In fact, whether anyone likes it or not, that was how modern ideas spread. From pamphlets to the Rights of Man wasn’t that much of a step, at least physically. Mentally, it was a gigantic leap. The tidal surges of progressive writing for the last 400 years or so are indicative. From serfdom to well, a complete social elsewhere, in fact.
Books have written as much real history as their writers. In China, the rise of books gave birth to the scholar class which was to dominate ancient and even modern China. China without its literature would have been impossible. In Europe, Gutenberg lit the fire which never went out. In the original Islamic world, modern science found its origins in book learned disciplines, which then spread around the world. Continue reading