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Strange Times for Books

“I shall always treasure my books, but I shall do so for antiquarian reasons alone.  I am at the same time tremendously excited, as a reader and learner, by the possibility of someday soon being able to carry the equivalent of the Library of Congress in the palm of my hand.  That will be the realization of humanity’s dream since the inception of discovery hundreds of thousands of years ago.”

Thus spake the headmaster of the $42,850 a year Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, as he announced the school’s plans to get rid of all their books, and replace the library with e-readers and a cappuccino machine.

Okay, no comment here, except it’s hard for me to believe that as Oog and Aag fashioned their first cave drawings a hundred thousand years ago, they were imagining the Library of Congress in the palm of their hands.  images

I learned about Dr. Cushing’s bold plan from the PW blog.  For the school’s 450 students, Dr. Cushing plans 18 E readers in lieu of the 20,000 books–which are all being given away.  And he’s building a $50,000 state of the art coffee shop where the library once stood.

Here’s my own favorite response to the news, posted by someone named Caryn:

“They require no outside device to be useful. They never need to be recharged and can be utilized anywhere, for hours or even days on end. They survive being dropped, tossed around, kept in purses and backpacks, used in the sun and sand. They are decorative. Most never need updating. They provide a unique tactile and often emotional experience. They can be stored for indefinite periods without any loss of function whatsoever. I don’t know, sounds like some advanced technology to me.”

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