After watching The Prudentialist’s take on memory and dystopias, I was struck by a certain realization: physical books really are essential. This feels difficult to accept when one is on the production side, as it is painful to work with the machinations of formatting and page design. For example, my most recent production involved a battle over how to keep chapter headings in place, and earlier offerings had problems related to subheadings flying across pages to leave white seas of blank in their wake. At times you want to simply bin the whole thing and capitulate to ebook hegemony.
Yet maybe that’s all part of the plan. While digital promotion offers the benefits of speed and relative affordability, the medium also denies readers certain unquestionable privileges. When we hold a book in our hands, it embodies a legacy inheritance of the author’s mind. The text remains continuously accessible as long as ownership does not lapse, and serves to safeguard that period of history and production. No one can say “that didn’t happen,” or at least not without facing the challenge of bound paper imprinted by dates, or, perhaps more importantly, the writer’s transmission at that time. Language style might give further clues to the temporal skeptics, along with any strong allegories from history.
In contrast, a digital file is easier to hide under the ghosting of propaganda. It can be corrupted, lost based on a device’s failure, or drowned by internet search results. More distinctly, one might argue that an ebook is not really a book at all, particularly in the case of Amazon. While paperback books receive an ISBN and are traceable in the global database of written texts, ebooks that lack a paper cousin have no such advantage. Thus you are free to delete the digital title from Bezos-Chan’s website and it will properly disappear. A paperback on the other hand can be removed, but the profile remains in place because of its ISBN listing. Sure, Amazon could elect to withdraw a book from its website, but as long as the paper version exists there will be a record on the internet.
This is precisely what our elitist overlords do not want. Like the Green Lady from The Silver Chair, they insist any prior world and history is a dream, and in fact never existed. We are supposed to believe that America was founded on the principle of diversity, genders do not matter, and the make-believe “fascist establishment” is actually oppressing liberal partisans desiring progress. These can only be made true if individuals lose all contact with their past and come to think that the start of history was 2008. So far they have been remarkably successful, largely due to social media and the broader digital onslaught in our lives.
While they are only one aspect of the struggle, physical books provide an important measure to toss in the face of leftist propagandists. Build a collection for yourself, and consider it an inheritance to be passed on at some point. Value oral histories and traditions as well, for these are even more difficult to eradicate when they continue to be practiced. Keep a journal, and consider printing out photographs instead of storing them “in the cloud,” where someday things could just vanish. You don’t need to be a revolutionary, but simply avoid succumbing to this bland technical erasure.