[LMB] why we still need paper books

Meg Justus mmegaera at nwlink.com
Tue Sep 20 18:14:38 BST 2011

> In summary, I'd expect that the desires of those with money will drive the 
> market as it always has.  Yet, I'd expect fall-through to poor people to 
> stay as good as it is, now, or improve with the changeover to e-books.
> Your thoughts?
> Ed

My thoughts as a former librarian is that you're way too optimistic about 
the fall-through. Seanan McGuire's original post (the link I posted that 
started this discussion) talks about how she grew up in what sounds 
appallingly like Vorbarr Sultana's Caravanserai, and how the problem was at 
least as much keeping anything of any value from getting taken away (stolen, 
grabbed by bullies) as it was acquiring it in the first place.  Not to 
mention that the number of ebook readers needed without the availability of 
paper books would be far beyond any public library's financial capability to 
provide them, even assuming they drop to the price of a hardback any time 
soon, which I don't see happening.  Maybe to the price of a decent coffee 
table book.

I do agree with you about it being the people with the money driving the 
market.  But libraries *are* a substantial part of those "people with the 
money," and I suspect they'll want to keep paper as long as they can because 
of the sheer logistics.

And I agree with Pat about the Great Recession not being anywhere near 
over -- my brother-in-law and I had an argument about that.  He insisted on 
the economists' narrow definition of a recession.  I insist that the 
recession (depression?) isn't over until the unemployment rate goes down 
below a reasonable figure.  Jobless recovery?  There is no such thing.  The 
one word negates the other.

who knows a lot of people whose only internet access is at the library --  
and a good many who don't even use that for a lot of good reasons 

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