Friday, December 9, 2011

Ghost libraries

Lovely short piece about ebooks in the November 3 London Review of Books (I am only currently one issue behind in my reading, which for me is pretty good going, but anyway you don't read the LRB for its topicality ...) by James Meek. It is only short and you can read it in full on their website, but some choice quotes below.
Once there were private libraries; then there were public libraries; now there is the ghost library, where poltergeistic fellow readers may not only be reading the same book as you at any moment but actually underlining the page of the book you are reading seconds before you get to it. They may be next door; they may be in Kamchatka; they may be anywhere, so long as they have Kindle and wifi.
The lightness of the ebook medium, literally and figuratively, holds a terrible allure and an insidious threat to the heavily booked-up among us. How many marriages, seemingly held firm by the impossibility of moving several hundredweight of vinyl or CDs out of a family-sized home, have already foundered post the digitisation of music? How many more will break if apparently inseparable and immovable matrimonial libraries become something that anyone can walk out with in their pocket?
The last paragraph is particularly lovely, but I will let you read that for yourselves.

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