10 January, 2012

There's Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby, or Is There?

Some of the viewers' comments on this recent YouTube video, The Joy of Books, remind me of Asimov's 1951 Science Fiction story, "The Fun They Had." Of course, while Asimov projected a nostalgia that he thought might happen in 2155, this video is a contemporary dirge on the current waning of neighborhood bookstores and the book as "we" know it.
But in order to produce this nostalgic effect on their viewers, the bookstore owners needed to use those very technologies that seem to be making books (i.e., their currently still dominant materiality) obsolete. Is this a case of books imitating technology? "O Menander and Life! Which of you took the other as your model?" The (mostly unintended) irony of this production is captured in the video's final pedagogical moment: There's NOTHING quite like the REAL BOOK, the producers want us to remember. REALly? See for yourself HERE.