A Hungry Morlock

Posted February 24th, 2011 by

A few days ago, Border’s filed for bankruptcy and began the process of closing down thirty percent of their stores in the United States. I can’t help but wonder what that will mean for people who love books, not to mention those who write them (like me).

I am not doing the rah-rah for Border’s, although I have frequently shopped there. But I AM a big fan of books. And, although I buy many of my books online these days, I continue to cherish the experience of actually going into a physical bookstore and the ensuing tactile pleasure of handling the books before I spend my hard earned money buying them.

I marvel at good cover designs. I enjoy reading about the typeface that was used to print them. I love the feel of pages in my hand as I turn them while reading late into the night. It makes me content to get so caught up in what I am reading that I forget the time. I like inserting artistic bookmarks to save my place for the next reading. I also love the smell of books, whether they are in dusty libraries or just off the press.

But it seems my days of savoring books within the environment of an actual building are rapidly coming to an end. Soon, everything — libraries and bookstores — will be disembodied; relegated to “the cloud.”

One day, I suppose (hopefully not within my lifetime) all of human knowledge will be collected and stored on “virtual” devices. Maybe they will look like those little turney discs from the movie The Time Machine. And maybe humans will evolve to a similar state as that of the Eloi who have “undergone significant physical and mental deterioration. Having solved all problems that required strength, intelligence, or virtue, they have slowly become dissolute and naive. While one initially has the impression that the Eloi people live a life of play and toil-less abundance, it is revealed that the Morlocks are attending to the Eloi’s needs for the same reason a farmer tends cattle; the Morlocks use the Eloi for food.”

My mental food is books. How will I survive without the weekend bookstore browse?

A Hungry Morlock

One response to “A Hungry Morlock”

  1. Tom DeWolf says:

    "Soon, everything — libraries and bookstores — will be disembodied; relegated to 'the cloud.'"

    We've seen the demise of lots of bookstores, but hopefully those that remain will find their niche. Besides Kindles and other virtual readers, physical bookstores face huge competition from online retailers like Amazon as well as the ability to buy used books at much lower cost than new.

    As for libraries, as long as they are publicly funded I don't see them disappearing in our lifetimes (and hopefully not the lifetimes of our grandchildren).

    I'll be interested to read what others think…

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