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I recently suggested to someone that a certain book was worth having a physically bound print copy. They suggested that if it was that important it should be digital so it can be searched and such. We were truly on two different wavelengths.

I live in both worlds. I read mostly digital media these days, and could easily get rid of my dining-room-turned-library in lieu of an e-reader. But I won’t. I still believe in the value of the physical medium. An affectation of nostalgia? Yes. A few ancient tomes that may never be in ASCII? Possibly. But it’s more. Some would say the physically-bound matter is art in itself, where the form is more than linguistic, between the covers.

It’s psychologically more grounded. It’s ritual — no more or less than sliding your finger on a screen perhaps — but the very fact it is NOT as portable or copied without effort gives it a mental tenacity that matches its persistence as a unique object in space and time, rather than an instantly replicable, transferable file. It is the difference between a live performance and a recording, the stage versus the screen, an heirloom and a copy.

But will the next generation be baffled by print’s apparent lugubriousness? {Contrary opinion HERE.} I don’t want my dining room to be seen as a museum, but a place or meaningful reality. And I can copy and paste text or links to text anywhere to anyone. But when I give you a book, it means something — to real people, not servers and devices.