"The Unbound Book"


by Judd H. Burton, MA



            Books are an infinitely valuable treasure.  They are the coin of the realm for all who love knowledge and seek it.  A world without books is a world bereft of learning, and a world bereft of learning is a lowly venue.  Therefore, we must take note of the value of books, as mediums for the conveyance of ideas, yes, but also of repositories of the sublime and aesthetic. 


            We live in the age of the ebook.  That is not to say that paper books do not exist or have outlived their usefulness.  I cringe at the prospect—and this lecture is certainly not an encouragement to discard the printed book.  Thank God they continue to thrive.  However, there are some distinct advantages to ebook format, and we as a society would do well to reap the benefits of such books.  As a result of the advent of the ebook, we can search a text with amazing speed for exactly what we are searching for.  It is a marvel that certainly is beyond the wildest imagination of scribes from ages past who scrawled their craft on papyrus and vellum.


            The first great merit of the ebook is the ease of access to a myriad of works.  There are countless databases of complete texts on every conceivable subject:  fiction and nonfiction.  The classics, humanities, science….they are all accessible with the effort of entering a query on a search engine.  You can pull up Dickens or Darwin, the Bible or the I Ching, and read, and consume to your hearts content.  Many of these books are free, and many more are available through retailers for purchase.


            The astonishing searchability of the ebook has also proven faster than index usage in printed books.  Again, the search function on many programs allows for instant and accurate searches.  The exact inquiry yields immediate results.  For the general reader this is a wonderful perk, but for the researcher it is an invaluable innovation.  This function saves the time it takes to look up a topic in the back of a book, and flip to the page on which the topic is found.  Time saved is time gained for the researcher.


            Finally, There is a perpetuity to the ebook that is lacking in printed books.  Digital files and document files have a life to which most printed material cannot compare.  Granted, if paper quality is good, a print book can last for a considerable time.  However, wood pulp will yellow quickly.  Not so with the etext.  The information is preserved for you to access when you wish, and is not susceptible to the sort of deterioration to which pages in a book succumb.


            As a bibliophile with a large library of print books, I can attest to the usefulness and enjoyment of such media.  I cannot envision ever getting rid of printed books or ceasing purchases thereof.  However, I must attest to the great efficiency of the ebook.  It is a modern marvel that has given the book lover a novel manner in which to enjoy and utilize texts.  So keep your paper books, but by all means, make use of a handy format that is sure to win your approval.

copyright Burton Beyond, 2005-2020