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Do books still matter?

Soltysek, Raymond (2007) Do books still matter? Teaching Scotland, Spring (22). p. 12. ISSN 1469-3054

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Abstract

Books are cultural artefacts in a way that bits and bytes and signals across the World Wide Web can never be. We can pick books up, leaf through them, smell them, feel the tension of the paper as we bend them. They are sensual creatures, are books. They are also unalterable: the strength of Wikipedia, YouTube and MySpace lie in the fact that they can be changed to accommodate often breathlessly fast changes in the world; the strength - and the beauty - of books is that once published, they stand before us like a great statue or a painting and ask us to respond to them for what they are, for better or for worse. That is why we keep favourite childhood books and pass them down the generations; that is why children queue overnight for the next instalment of their favourite wizard's adventures, carrying it home like treasure; that is why, while websites can become redundant within days, books will still be exhibited in museums in thousands of years' time, just as they are now.