The Travelin' Librarian Uncategorized An elegy for the book

An elegy for the book

Read this transcript of a recent talk by Cory Doctorow. Seriously, read this! Here are a few choice excerpts.

…We are the people of the book. We love our books. We fill our houses with books. We treasure books we inherit from our parents, and we cherish the idea of passing those books on to our children. Indeed, how many of us started reading with a beloved book that belonged to one of our parents? We force worthy books on our friends, and we insist that they read them. We even feel a weird kinship for the people we see on buses or airplanes reading our books, the books that we claim. If anyone tries to take away our books—some oppressive government, some censor gone off the rails—we would defend them with everything that we have. We know our tribespeople when we visit their homes because every wall is lined with books. There are teetering piles of books beside the bed and on the floor; there are masses of swollen paperbacks in the bathroom. Our books are us. They are our outboard memory banks and they contain the moral, intellectual, and imaginative influences that make us the people we are today…

…Neil Gaiman, who I’m sure you’re all familiar with, is a wonderful and inspiring writer, has a lovely schtick that I’m going to do for you today. How many people here have a favourite writer? Put your hands up if you have a favourite writer. Keep your hand up if you paid for the first book you got by your favourite writer, put your hand down if you got it for free. About half of you got your first book by your favourite writer for free…

…Licenses that requires that librarians turn over their patrons’ reading habits? No librarian is going to do it, because we know that your behaviour changes when what you do is surveilled. We know that intellectual freedom requires a private space. So you guys that work in libraries, your collection acquisition people are really the suckers that every ebook publisher has square in their crosshairs, they really think that they can milk you for it, and that’s because many of you have bought these ridiculous subscriptions that disappear when you stop subscribing. They’ve got you marked for suckers. It’s time to stop being suckers. It’s time to start doing right by your collections and by your patrons…

Ok, now go read the whole thing!

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