Book Review: 'The Case for Books, Past, Present and Future'

21 Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing 42 (Fall 2012)

4 Pages Posted: 10 May 2015 Last revised: 3 Jul 2015

See all articles by James B. Levy

James B. Levy

Nova Southeastern University - Shepard Broad College of Law

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

From the introduction: Most people probably don't think of a book as "technology" but that's what it is — a once state-of-the-art solution for how best to transmit text. In terms of design, the book almost defies improvement by perfectly melding form and function. Attesting to its stature as a model of great technology design, consider that the book has remained essentially unchanged for more than 500 years going back to Gutenberg, 1,000 years going back to the Chinese invention of movable type, and several thousand years before that if you include the early books of ancient Greece and Rome.

Think about that for a moment — a technology thousands of years old so well designed that it is still being used today. Now consider what a historic moment in time this is as we witness the first, fundamental change in book design as it moves from a tangible, paper-based medium to an intangible, digital one. What does this suggest about the future of traditional books, or "p-books" as they are now known? Does it mean they will become a quaint relic of the past like LPs, valued only by collectors and a few decorators? Do books have any relevance in our digital future? Related to that, what will happen to the traditional brick-and-mortar library now that its contents can be stored on a laptop's hard drive? In an era when the Internet has become...

Note: A review of "The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future" by Robert Darnton, the Director of the University Library at Harvard.

Keywords: technology, books, print, e-readers, digital devices, law school, legal education, textbooks e-texts, e-books

Suggested Citation

Levy, James B., Book Review: 'The Case for Books, Past, Present and Future' (2012). 21 Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing 42 (Fall 2012), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2604349

James B. Levy (Contact Author)

Nova Southeastern University - Shepard Broad College of Law ( email )

3305 College Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314
United States

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