In one of his books, King Solomon gave this exhortation:
And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end… – Ecclesiastes 12:12
In his day, books were actually pages pasted together in a scroll. It wasn’t until about the Second Century AD, a thousand years after Solomon, that pages were put together between a hard cover. That kind of “book” was called a Codex.
Although he was the wisest man in the world, he could not have imagined how true his prediction would be. The greatest libraries could not hold all the books that were written.
In this age of electronic publishing, there is a major shift away from physical, paper books. It is cheaper and faster to transmit whole books into one’s reader, tablet, or smart phone in about one minute. And between one’s own e-books and the limitless free information now available on the Internet, including the old classics, there is little need of bulky books these days.
Still, Solomon’s words ring true. The e-publishing phenomenon has given rise to an even greater number of titles with every passing year!
Bookstores have disappeared, or are struggling. Libraries are not visited very often.
But there is just something about a good book, actually printed on paper, that appeals to us after all. Some of us like to underline key phrases and make notes in the margins of our favorite books. We especially do that with the Bible, but it is also common in our textbooks, commentaries, and other special volumes. Some books are too special to take a chance that they will be lost in “the cloud,” or become inaccessible if the lights go out.
So, for most of us, it is not a simple choice of “either/ or,” but of “both/ and.” I do most of my study on the Internet and Kindle, but I want a hard copy of the most treasured publications.
So, Amazon has given us the best of both worlds! Order the paperback, or download the text. But wait! There’s more! Now, with their new service, “CreateSpace.com,” they offer to treat every writer to online storage of his or her literary creations, FOR FREE! And, almost miraculously, their equipment will print out a low-cost, full-color professional, real book and send it out right away, or you can download the electronic version immediately.
I wonder if Solomon in his heavenly home knows this is happening. If so, I wonder if he is laughing or crying.