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Power of books

A book doesn't need batteries to work, isn't afraid of being hit, doesn't require a password. It can be transported, lent, offers direct access, can be consulted without Google or FB knowing about it, etc. The book has many qualities but it is not perfect: it is not updated online, it is expensive; it is difficult to find a passage in the text, it takes up space, is sometimes heavy, etc. The digital has also advantages. Beyond the medium, it is the written word that is at issue and, whether digital or physical, its usefulness continues to be demonstrated and expanded.

Some novels, essays, textbooks are still being republished, translated and interpreted long after the death of their authors and their influence continues. The best media are not so much dependent on technology as on the minds that work to share them. We may be able to copy the entire library onto a strand of DNA, but I doubt we could read it on the leaves of a tree whose DNA had been modified to decode it.

The written word serves as a foundation in many areas. The Pythagorean theorem, "On the Origin of Species", "The Grapes of Wrath", came to us through the written word. How many social movements or scientific revolutions are based on a thesis that was first disseminated in writing, how many careers and passions have been triggered by the encounter with a book! The phenomenon is rarer from videos or podcasts because the commitment is deeper with a text that one appropriates, almost in communion with its author.

Like exposed ideas that are only waiting to be updated, some fear books, others share them. Some limit themselves to just a few titles, others draw more broadly on works and essays outside their usual area. It seems that variety is better for the mind and relationships, as much for soothing or escaping as for opening up to the world. Through their guidance and sensitivity, librarians and booksellers remain essential to the development of intellectual and social life.

Good exploration

Denys Lamontagne - [email protected]

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