Samuel Delany on how science fiction writers are shaping the future.explore-blog)
What does this say about readers today accessing everything on an e-reader, delivering recommended books based on “because you read” and “your taste profile”, all at a price? There are some public libraries allowing “check-out-able” books for downloading to e-readers, but gone is the adventure of simply walking up and down an aisle of shelves, discovering something you never thought to every try reading. Gone is the smell of ancient pages whispering to you as you run your fingers over the spines. Gone is cracking open a book that piques your interest and reading a few pages from the middle, just to see if you like the author’s style and wit. Gone is standing there and flipping through a book in it’s entirety, absorbing the gist of it before deciding you want to try another instead.
Sure, some books are available for free from time to time, or even at $1.99, but sticking to cheap reads means you get what you pay for. Cheap writing, cheap ideas. It’s truly something to walk out of a library with a $35 bestseller in your hand and know that you can return it and share it with another when you’re finished reading it.
As much as e-readers are convenient and “save trees,” we lose the freedom to peruse shelves and gain new ideas, new information, new thoughts from places we never considered looking. When our public libraries close in favor of total e-readership, we will see a drop in our cultural ability to think freely, to form new opinions, to question our assumptions in a non-confrontational way, and to discover new approaches to life, living and the future.