My local newspaper featured an opinion piece by John Sweeney, editor of The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware. In it he revealed that Ray Bradbury warned about books ‘in the air,’ and that he never would have allowed a digital version of “Fahrenheit 451” to be released if Simon & Schuster hadn’t told him that unless he agreed to it, they would no longer keep the book in print.
A number of authors have expressed concern about the impermanence of digital books because e-books can be removed, revised, and reloaded. In fact, they can be endlessly revised and perhaps even subjected to censorship. It doesn’t take much to imagination to envision various scenarios along that line.
Remember the big flap over Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and how it was altered for young readers? In the years to come, if your child’s text books and library books are all digital, think how much easier it will be for a publisher from sanitize such classics for the schools. The picture of our real history, warts and all, will be lost if that happens.
At this point, I must say that I embrace digital books. I have over a dozen books loaded in my Kindle. Just last week I uploaded my own book, Lottie’s Legacy, to Kindle, and I hope many people will enjoy my offering.
But I also have several shelves of books made of paper, some very old. I have my mother’s nursing textbook from 1915, where I’m able to read about medical and nursing practices of that time. In the future, if as predicted, brick and mortar libraries disappear, current books like that would be lost in a digital haze. Historians and genealogists constantly comb the world’s archives for authentic source material. Without libraries, will our history be lost?
Each new advance of science, technology and art comes with a hazard, whether it’s genetic engineering or e-books. It’s my opinion that we must consider the issue of digitalizing all written material carefully. The truth is, we need both types of books. That’s my opinion. What do you think?