Why I Still Buy Paper Books - And Two That Just Arrived in the Mail

Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs. Manley - Fidelis Morgan Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Hoving, Thomas (1994) Paperback - Thomas Hoving

One of those things I think of as "not really arguments" are the essays/articles/ponderings people write about paper vs ebook - you know, the ones that seem to have the idea that ebooks are truly making all paper books disappear, or are threatening the entire future of paper books. This isn't going to happen ever, by the way. Why am I so sure? Because there will never be a time when all the paper books previously published will all be available in digital format. Unless of course there's suddenly a new process that will be as easy for digitizing as the speed of the Transporter compares to today's air travel. (Actually the Replicator is a better comparison isn't it? I'm too lazy to rewrite that. Let's pretend it was my first thought.) It could happen - and I would enjoy to see that in my lifetime. But I'm not going to count on it. Now, there may be fewer new paper books published in the future - but there will always be people who want paper copies of some of them. As a species, humans like to obtain certain objects just to touch and hold.


There are always going to be books that it won't be profitable to turn into digital books. For those books the only options/hopes for digitization are that a hobbyist/fan, an academic, or an academic institution (or something Google-ish) will work on formatting them, purely out of desire to have others read them, or continue scholarship on the author/subject. Which means there will still be those of us that will bump into mentions of obscure books which we will want to read and paper will be our only option. This isn't entirely sad - but it does mean that paper's going to be around a while. And since paper books do tend to last, we'll still be buying them. (Gadgetry however - well, do you still have your first cassette player? Record player? CD player? Mp3 player? All of those?)


Short version: We're still in the early days of ebook tech. It's still in progress and the old tech has not been completely replaced. (Tech advances more quickly now, but adoption of tech never has been that rapid. Also see: vinyl records. It's really hard to call when something's definitely died out.)


Also remember that loads of people (the kind who love making predictions) decades ago were certain we'd all be using flying cars by now. (Words to google: flying car predictions.)


Now to the (vaguely) more interesting bit - why I had to buy these paper books!

Short answer, the obvious: They were only available in paper.


A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs. Manley

by Fidelis Morgan

hardback: Faber and Faber, January 1, 1987


There are sooooo many biographies or academic writings on certain women in our history that are only available via used books online. (Am not going into a lengthy Not All Libraries bit here, for fear of being dull.) You're not going to easily find these in physical used book stores - not without some continuous looking, emails or phone calls. Unless you've got the motivation of a research paper there's a lot of history you're going to miss out on. Me, I hate missing out on these sorts of stories, and I have an insatiable curiosity problem. And I'm rarely happy with just a biographical line or two in random history books. (Note: Edited out a long burble on "I seem to have this problem with more women's histories than men, because I can't really quantify that. I could do an entire post just on "random guys in history I ran down books about because they didn't get much attention in histories." I'm a sucker for this kinda obscure history. But I do find that many of these "not well known" women in history have very few books devoted just to them. I suspect this has to do with how many women's history dissertations get published.) (And so much for editing that out, huh.)


I bumped into first heard about Delarivier Manley in reading Lucy Moore's Thieves' Opera, and posted about her in this Reading in Progress post. There you'll see I googled her, and wanted to know more. I added a book to my TBR list/wish list and it might have ended there. Except I had to buy some other things at Amazon, and I got into my "oh what the hell, I'm buying other stuff so I might as well..." moods. I have an Amazon wish list just for books that I can only buy in paper, and this was at the top - plus I was still thinking about her. Impulse buy!


Luckily this book was published in the 80s, so not a huge problem getting a copy. No idea what the writing's like yet - but I'll let you know.


Also if you want a unique name for a fictional character, do let me suggest Delarivier. I'm somewhat fond of it.


Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art

by Thomas Hoving

hardback: Touchstone, February 15, 1994


This one's been on my Amazon list for so long that I've completely forgotten where I discovered its existence - I know it was another book's bibliography. Which means I can't tell you any interesting story that caught my eye this time - that's usually how books get on my Need To Read This list. If you read his wikipedia page - Thomas Hoving - I think you'll quickly see why I felt he might have an interesting take on working in the museum.


Note: I will squee over anyone who's worked at The Cloisters - as Hoving did. I still have not been there (I have been to the Met). Someday I must. I've always been in love with the idea and descriptions and photos of the place. I think I can blame some of this on an art history class in Gothic cathedral architecture. Great stuff. With a really difficult final exam where you were shown interior photos and had to name the cathedral and its time period. (Studying for a visual part of an exam is not easy!)


Is there a fandom for those of us who love Museums? Because I know there are many of us. I see others like me whenever I'm in a museum. We're the ones that carefully read the text next to the objects, who pick up and read the paper brochures, who stand aside to let a group pass through so we can take our time looking. I always smile hugely when I see people do this, and then quickly pretend I'm not looking. Everyone needs their museum-alone-time.