The End of Books? Or Preservation of Ideas?

Undoubtedly man will learn to make synthetic rubber more

cheaply, undoubtedly his aircraft will ›y faster, undoubtedly

he will ‹nd more speci‹c poisons to destroy his internal parasites

without ruining his digestion, but what can he do

mechanically to improve a book?

—Vannevar Bush, “Mechanization and the Record” (1939)


This extract from Douglas, J. Yellowlees. The End of Books — Or Books Without End?, was incredibly in depth and explored many hyper texts of the history of books, and their evolution.

However, one idea in particular provoked me and it stemmed from the title ‘End of Books – Or Books Without End’? 

In my short life span, I have seen books turned from paper back covers, to transcend into the evolving nature of technology. The invention of the kindle, and e-books have seen the decline in production and sales of the physical ‘book’.

More so, magazines are now declining with online platforms such as webpages, and instagrams now taking place.

Throughout history, the role of the book has been significant.

Most famously, or infamously was the burning of books by the Nazi’s during World War 2, used as a way to disintegrate ideas circulating through the people.

This notion of denying knowledge, freedom and ideas to flourish through destruction of books makes me ponder the evolution of idea sharing which takes place in todays modern society.

Through the internet and web 2.0, ideas are able to travel and transpire across the globe seemingly unregulated – granted this can not always be a good thing – and are no longer fragile frameworks of paper, but etched into our never ending cloud of technology.

As they say “Once something is on the internet, it is there forever” – does this mean every idea we discuss online will forever circulate?