|Goodbye, friends. Imma download you.|
Anyway, we moved.
In the mountain of stuff we no longer want that is now sitting grumpily in our new house, there are a mazillion VHS tapes. These are objects that should have been purged years ago. We haven't watched any of them since we moved the last time. We don't even have a VCR connected to our TV. If we did hook up a VCR, and managed to remember what the button "Rewind" does, I guarantee the tapes would look awful in 1080 resolution. It's at a point with these VHS tapes that I don't even think the Salvation Army wants them. I don't think anyone wants them. But every time we began to hustle them into bags to push them out the door, we got all oogly about it. Here's our copy of "The Long Kiss Goodnight," which we watched and rewound several times. Here's "Household Saints," one of the first movies I ever owned. "Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael." "Go." "Four Rooms." "Sweetie." Here's that copy of "City of Lost Children" that was almost impossible to get. "Evita." Shut up, I have the whole thing memorized. I have a romantic attachment to these objects -- they remind me of when we were younger, poorer, and dumber, when I was working at a 1/2 porn video store during graduate school, when our TV was small and given to fits of rage instead of large and austere and firmly in control of itself.
So I put them, all, ruthlessly in the trash. I kept the ultrasound videos from my kids. I kept a couple of other personal things. But anything that I can get on DVD or download, I tossed.
Then I had a horrifying thought. AM I DOING THAT THING THAT PEOPLE DO WHEN THEY ARE LIKE, "OH, WHATEVER, BOOKS ARE PASSE, I HAVE MY WHOLE LIBRARY RIGHT HERE IN THIS ELECTRONIC THINGER." Shudder.
|This was not the cover.|
But I wish it had been.
Because this cover's badass.
But will my children? Will their children? Will publishing really change forever like everyone is saying it will, so that we'll all be walking around in future times with retinal projectors that allow us to store small libraries behind our ear drums and books will seem dumb like VCRs and twisty knobs on televisions, and jello molds? If I throw away these tapes, will I tomorrow throw away my Gormenghast novels? With the same reckless abandon? Will I?
Moment of panic. Moment of almost pulling those VHS tapes back out of the trash. Then, relief.
Here's what I realized. Books are not like VHS. They're not like DVDs or film canisters or analog recordings or vinyl. You can't say "Well, I can get my books on my Kindle" just like you can say "Well, I can get my songs on my iPod." They're not like that. Here's what they're really like: Theater. Live concerts. You can make them work just with your eyes. You can make all the parts function just by looking at them. It's not a product, it's an entertainment. It's not an object, it's an experience. An experience you can collect, and keep in pretty rows, and share, and and have again and again. And then I felt much better.
I felt better because not only did I NOT have to keep all those VHS tapes, and not only did I NOT have to get rid of all my books and start buying up eBooks on Google, but this: publishers are going to be okay. They really are. Call me Pollyanna or a crack addict or in denial or call me ignorant but here's what I'm saying: Books aren't going anywhere.
Things may change, in publishing. E-books rise. Paperbacks fall. Publishers will try fetishizing, and niche marketing, and different production models. Fine. But people will still go to the theater. People will still go to live music shows. And people are still going to have books, want books, read books, hoard books, dive into books, and love books. Believe it.
|Some of my favorite books.|