Every time I hear the cry that the book is dead, I have a little chuckle to myself.
You see – I don’t believe it for a minute.
I can see how ereaders and the likes of Apple’s new ipad will have their place. I’m quite a gadget girl at heart, and the idea of being able to load up hundreds of books on one device is very attractive. But no piece of gadgetry will EVER replace the joy of snuggling up with a proper book.
And this is what the people who predict the death of the book forget. We humans have a passion for real books that is not always logical or practical. Of course it makes sense to be able to have all these great works of fiction at your fingertips on one tiny little screen, but the very fact that the books are so available – just a click on a screen away – makes them less attractive.
I want to work a little harder to get my reading material. I want to line up in a bookshop to buy it. I want to order it online and then have to wait a few days for it to arrive. I want to wait for a friend to finish reading her copy so she can lend it to me. I want the anticipation. And I never want to forget how lucky I am to be able to read and to have easy access to as many books as I can ever consume in a lifetime.
It is when I read stories about some of the weird and wonderful libraries that exist in the world that I really remember how fortunate I am.
In Colombia, Luis Soriano sets off nearly every weekend with his two donkeys to lend books to people in small villages. He believes his ‘biblioburro’ will help fight poverty in the region. This article in the New York Times tells his story, or hear it from Luis himself in this video by ayoka productions.
And I love the solution this English village came up with for their library.
Faced one day with losing both their mobile library and their phone box, the villagers of Westbury-sub-Mendip in Somerset decided to combine them both. It appears to have been hugely successful and has so inspired people from around the world, that they have been sending books to the village to add to the phone box collection. Could the villagers have resorted to ereaders? Of course they could. But where’s the fun in that?
One organisation which is determined to bring the wonder of books to everyone is Room To Read. Building libraries and schools in the developing world, RTR aims to break the cycle of poverty by providing education and access to books to all, one child at a time. Room to Read figures show that a staggering 700 million adults in the world are illiterate – and cannot enjoy a book in the way that you can, whenever you like, wherever you are.
So every time you pick up a book, open it lovingly. Books contain the world’s stories and are the results of countless hours of work by all involved in creating them. Books are a wonder and we are lucky to have them. Cherish them – for a world without real books will be a lesser place.
PS. What country are you passionate about? Head over to Packabook’s main site and see what amazing books we have selected for you set in the country of your choice.