John Stott has enjoyed a distinguished career as one of evangelical Christianity’s foremost voices. And he’s hanging up his pen. He has this to say about the future of books (not necessarily in the face of the challenge of the e-book – he may not know they exist)…
“Our favorite books become very precious to us and we even develop with them an almost living and affectionate relationship. Is it an altogether fanciful fact that we handle, stroke and even smell them as tokens of our esteem and affection? I am not referring only to an author’s feeling for what he has written, but to all readers and their library. I have made it a rule not to quote from any book unless I have first handled it. So let me urge you to keep reading, and encourage your relatives and friends to do the same. For this is a much neglected means of grace.”
I love reading. I love books. I love that each book represents at least one idea, recorded and accessible for future generations. I love that sometimes that which is recorded is almost immediately archaic and worthy of ridicule. Three of my favourite things about studying are:
1. Reading too many books for each essay.
2. Hanging out in the Library, a big room full of ideas.
3. Having an excuse to buy new books. I love the book depository, and price comparison website booko is a handy tool.
I have dreams of a lounge room with a fireplace and comfy armchair, and three and a half walls of books… or an ipad.
I like Stott’s rule of handling a book before quoting from it – but I’m almost equally enamored by google books and its quest to archive every book in the world like the grandest of libraries. It is much easier to flick through a hard copy of a book when you’re in the process of writing and wanting to skim between different sections, but it is oh so handy to be able to search for particular words and phrases in a search box.
My rule of thumb is that I want to have read the chapter I’m quoting from and at least enough of the book to get its vibe before I’ll interact with it in an essay.
I used to love albums in their tangible form, and probably photos as well, but having tossed all my CD cases in the move in exchange for a couple of large CD wallet things, I’m enjoying just using my computer and getting new stuff with iTunes. Books are, in a sense, the last bastion of tangible media for me. And I don’t think I can give them up, especially when all the existing ones will end up going cheap in second hand book stores as everybody else makes the move to the electronic age.
I read the Stott quote on Andy United – the blog of an IVP publisher – which is worthy subscribing to.