Books Forever After
by Alison Jack
If I hadn’t been an author I would rather like to have been a historical researcher. The big battles and major events that helped shape the modern World certainly intrigue me, but my real fascination lies in tantalising glimpses of people’s lives, clothes, food, feuds and interactions in days gone by. Some historical trends are still familiar today, others clearly shaped the way we live in modern times, and some have gone forever. Change and continuity; it never fails to engage my interest.
Books are an invaluable source of the social history that I crave. A painting or tapestry can offer a snapshot of a certain moment in time, but only in books can we really delve into the past. I love ancient books; every cathedral, castle and stately home has its share of books; hand written, breathtakingly beautiful, and usually stored inside glass cases to protect them from curious fingers like mine. To someone fascinated by social history, chronicles kept by ordinary people are just as important as these beautiful books, and I think it would be unfortunate were the art of diary writing to become lost in this age of computer networking. Would Samuel Pepys’s dairy have the same historical impact had it been posted on YouTube? Would visitors still be flocking to Anne Frank’s house had her record of her ordeal been nothing more than a series of Tweets?
I’d like to make it clear at this point that I’m not averse to social networking. I am in fact an active participant, but I find that networking is very much of the moment. What will we leave behind that will be of benefit to the social historians of the future? We will leave a wealth of films, videos, photographs etc, but how much will they actually tell future generations? Who films everyday life? Will the people of the future think our lives were an endless stream of weddings, christenings and ‘You’ve Been Framed’ clips? I believe it is still only through books that people will actually learn what it’s like to work, shop, socialise and relax in 2013 Britain. Being a lover of both social history and books myself I find it significant that, despite having so much technology at our disposal, we’ll only leave behind a true representation of our era if someone writes it down.
Of course we now live in the age of the e-book. As with social networking I’m not at all averse to reading in e-format; my own handbag sized e-reader, stocked with a wealth of reading material, is my constant companion. It serves me well now, but will my e-books be passed on to future generations like a collection of hard backs would be? I think probably not. Likewise if I keep a diary on my computer, will it be preserved for posterity? There’s a chance it will, but a physical book with ‘Dairy 2013’ clearly emblazoned across its cover is far more likely to survive the centuries. The e-reader serves a very valuable purpose; anyone who has ever lugged two weeks’ worth of books on holiday will vouch for the fact that a small reading device is so much easier to pack. The e-reader is also a lot more eco-friendly than traditionally printed books, but I do think there will always be a place for traditional books alongside e-books. Change and continuity. E-format for everyday reading right now, classic printed books to be treasured forever after.
I would be very interested to hear other people’s opinions on the future of the traditionally printed book.
Alison Jack has lived for many years in and around the beautiful University city of Cambridge. Her working life has always involved books; following two decades of distributing the works of other authors, she has finally been given the opportunity to realise her dream and write a book of her own. Thanks to an over active imagination, Alison’s début novel, DORY’S AVENGERS, took a mere three months to write. It is due for publication by Book Guild on 29 August 2013. Here is the blurb:
In a stifled and oppressed United Kingdom, nothing can be achieved without the approval of the dictatorial Sponsors, at whose head is the malevolent and cruel Lord William St Benedict. In Britain s cities the Sponsored live narrow, if privileged, lives, while the Unsponsored are confined to menial roles and to less desirable districts. Among the Sponsors many victims is Lord William s own son, the forthright and charismatic Theodore Dory held captive by his father since he was a boy. In the unassuming town of Applethwaite, in the shadow of the Cumbrian fells, an unlikely revolution is brewing. Albino gymnast Louis Trevelyan and his motley group of friends are fiercely proud of their Unsponsored status and gradually forge a plan not only to liberate the beleaguered Theodore but the whole of the United Kingdom. Dory s Avengers are coming!
Dory’s Avengers is available to buy now from:
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