Once Upon a Time…

This post is about a dying species, the physical book. While book sales are stagnating at best, the number of published books is exploding, meaning that fewer copies of each book are printed. How many of these will survive say a century?

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The lucky ones end up in the stacks of large university libraries like the Wells Library shown here. It’s like with animals: In the wild, their life expectancy is much lower than in a zoo.

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I grew up in five minute walking distance to a local, privately owned book store. In 15 minute biking distance were two public libraries. These days, privately owned book stores are nearly extinct, and the chains that helped kill them are struggling. Easily obtainable books in print are either classics or bestsellers.

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If you want that one exotic book that a friend recommended, you probably need a large library (and be able to read in another language). But they are struggling, too: Space is precious, demand low.

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So the aisles are emptied, the books extradited to special auxiliary library facilities, from where you can request them. The happy hours of browsing are gone.

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