The Future of Books

Moving required getting rid of lots of books. My much better half is also a reader and we made about a dozen trips to the resale shop to put our surplus books back into circulation. It was not a matter of recovering the initial cost of these volumes so much as our inability to put anything so enjoyed in the dumpster.

I once “rescued” an entire bookcase of motorsports books -some of them first editions signed by the author- for twenty bucks at an estate sale just moments before they were to be tossed in the trash. I gave some of those away as gifts and sold enough of them to collectors to easily recover my cost but many are still in the 42 hastily labeled boxes in my now dehumidified basement. Perhaps I can pass them on to other enthusiasts in the next few years.

My gear library is more of a concern. I blogged about inventorying the library of one of my gear heroes several years ago; as far as I know his books are still in a storage room at his long-time employer’s facility. His family had no interest in gears and no place to keep them. If anything, my gear reference library is more extensive than his due to the wide range of my practice, frequent location changes, and lack of understudies. I am open to suggestions on its eventual disposition.

The internet puts thousand of books at our fingertips yet there is something reassuring about holding an actual hard copy of a peer reviewed technical or history book in your hands and being able to quickly thumb to a tabbed page, I suppose one could save page views off the web for future reference but I find looking at a veteran book to be like chatting with an old friend. I look at a page and remember the context of my first reading and the events that were going on at the time. Sometimes even the bookmarks spark a recollection; I have found photos, computer printouts, ticket stubs, and handwritten notes.

My vision of the apocalypse is an internet crash or EMF pulse that wipes out all of the collected memory electronically stored. The great fire at the fabled Alexandria Library only destroyed part of the world’s wisdom but it was enough to cause the Dark Ages. Against that existential threat it is perfectly reasonable for me to preserve five or six boxes of gear books in my climate-controlled man cave. At least that is what I tell my better half.

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.