Books Is It The End?
Political Repression and Burning Books
The idea of burning books has the connotation of suppressing thought that is outside political, religious and cultural dogma.
In some countries, authors that operate outside the religious perimeter are given the death sentence whether they live in the country that feels offended or not, something Salman Rushdie, the British author can relate to.
Deepa Mehta, famous Canadian filmmaker worked with him to turn Midnight's Children, his book that won the 1981 Booker Prize, into a film.
That is not the kind of burning books we have in mind in this piece. It is a suggestion to solve the problem created by technology.
Now that reading - as in turning pages that make a rustling noise - is no longer in fashion, I might as well burn all my books, since it is not punishable by death.
They take up limited space and cannot be recycled since they are easily available on the Kindle screen or iPhone. Getting a bigger house is futile because even Kate Middleton in Buckingham Palace does not have enough space.
Some homes still have bookshelves but they are literally gathering dust because if there six family members, all of them have some electronic gadget or maybe three i.e. mobile phone, i-pad and a laptop.
It is not totally true that people don’t read anymore. They do, or should we say they scroll down the screen or tap, tap, tap the screen.
Books used to have a long shelf life because:
One person bought a book but it could be read by two or three more people.
Books could be donated to churches and community centres.
You could find rare books in flea markets.
Books could be stolen from your home library by family and friends.
Used books could be send to rural schools across the world.
Book Stores Out Of Business
December is very bad for my bank balance because shopping is in the air and I buy things because of Christmas fever. That is how I ended up buying six books, the hip hop generation would call ‘old school.’
They were drastically reduced because that particular bookstore is limping, no customers in sight since most of us are reading books on computer screens great and small.
Book stores used to have the monopoly of selling books. Not anymore. That is why many bookstores in Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom reached THE END of their business life over the years.
The Biggest Bookstore in the World, on 20 Edward Street in Toronto used to be a tourist attraction but it had to shut its doors forever in March 2014.
The location was perfect because it was a few feet away from Queen Street, where journalists, writers, film producers, fashion designers, students, business executives, street hustlers everybody, used to hang out. You could buy books late after catching a film at the Scotiabank Theatre next door.
Sliding Demand for Hard Books
Business is about supply and demand, as seen in You’ve Got Mail, Nora Ephron’s film starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. The book store the director used in the film has an uncanny resemblance to The Biggest Bookstore in the World.
The problem then was not reading books on computers or tablets. It was about cheaper books because they were bought in bulk.
Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan loves books and children. She has Shop Around the Corner, a book store she inherited from her mother, where she reads to kids and they call her the book lady.
She is doing pretty well until Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) opens a mega bookstore next to her, with a huge collection of children’s books and play area.
Ironically, Kathleen is playing online games with Joe Fox and she lives for that message on her computer: You’ve Got Mail. They buy their coffee from the neighbourhood Starbucks but they don’t know each other.
Kathleen finally throws in the towel and goes out of business. The internet has turned the tables because mega-book stores are going out of business.
Book Burning Plan
I cannot burn my books in one go so I would need a strategy. Maybe I could burn them according to categories:
Cookbooks: all the recipes I need are online so they will catch fire first, but they have such pretty photos. What a pity!
Film books: Toronto bookstores used to have a wide range of film books, but they will also have to go up in flames. Who needs them? Everything is online.
Autobiographies: Lives of famous people should also go. I’ll get more information about them on their blogs, Twitter or Facebook.
Do-it-Yourself (DIY): My father taught me how to paint and some carpentry. He used to make window covering called pelmets. He showed me how to cut masonite and paint it, so I enjoy DIY books.
Religious books: The bible is on the internet, so are all religious books, so i will get salvation from YouTube.
Libraries Burning Books
Once I’m done with my book-burning, I will become a consultant for public libraries, help them get rid of sets of Encyclopedia Britannica, thousands of magazines, geographical surveys, newspapers, VHS tapes, DVD’s etc.
Libraries will need my expertise because they cannot burn books in their backyards because they don’t have any.
Most of them are owned by municipalities, provincial and federal governments, therefore what they do is scrutinised by aspiring politicians, the opposition, lobby groups that do not want spraying as a solution to pest control and book-lovers of course, who wish for a future book resurrection.
I will also advise libraries about where to burn the books because they are too many. We cannot have a library garage sale of millions of books and magazine back copies. Can we?
We might need a huge plot of land for the bonfire, or find an incinerator somewhere to squeeze the life out of them. Maybe there is a digital incinerator already to zap cellphones we manufactured two years ago, head sets, irons, microwave ovens and books.
I will also do the necessary research and advise municipalities about emissions from burning audio books, audio cassettes, DVD’s and large print books.
The following will also have to go if what they keep is already online:
National Library of Canada
Library of Congress
Law libraries with floor to ceiling law reports
Burning books might sound harsh, but the internet has made sure that it is not business as usual for publishers, book stores and distributors.
It is one of the many solutions for getting rid of books nobody wants because almost everything is online. There are certain books I would like to keep though.
But which ones?