Oct. 17, 2010

What are books good for?

So what are books good for? My best answer is that books produce knowledge by encasing it. Books take ideas and set them down, transforming them through the limitations of space into thinking usable by others.… [T]he two cultures of the contemporary world are the culture of data and the culture of narrative. Narrative is rarely collective. It isn’t infinitely expandable. Narrative has a shape and a temporality, and it ends, just as our lives do. Books tell stories. Scholarly books tell scholarly stories.

— William Germano

Read the whole essay here. I’m not sure there’s really anything new in it, but it is an interesting consideration of what the word “book” means in the digital era and a good case for the continuing relevance of the codex — you know, the kind of book made out of paper, ink and glue. (via ALD)

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