A journey through the history (and future?) of books
The Final Page is an exploration of writing through history and the future. Join me on a journey through space and time as we explore the creative evolution of writing. The Final Page series was created in part as assessment towards my Master of Arts (Writing) – Original title: The Last. Each fictional story is accompanied by the evidence and opinions that inspired its creation.
Story from Sina:
I held a book last week. My sister and I were at my grandmother’s house for her centennial birthday. Mum says that when she was my age, the average lifespan was only 95 years. That’s a pretty scary thought. So, we were at Gran’s and everyone was downloading presents for her. She loves reading so she got a lot of e-novs.
Dad had a secret gift for her. He wouldn’t tell any of us what it was. Dad kissed her on the cheek and told her he wanted to give her his gift next. She held out her receiver pen but he laughed and shook his head. From behind his back, Dad produced a box. It was decorated with colorful flowers and a bow of silver ribbon. It was beautiful.
Gran’s face lit up and her hands flew to her face. Tears welled in her eyes. Dad placed the gift on her lap and I gasped as she tore the bow apart. I was horrified that she would destroy such a pretty present. I looked at Dad, expecting him to be equally mortified, but he smiled as I had never seen him smile before.
Gran threw the bow away from her and began to attack the box. Dad continued to grin. Gran peeled away the outside of the box and I realized it was just a covering. She folded back one side of the cover, then the other. On her lap, lay another box. My mother made a strange noise.
Gran’s hands reached out to my Dad. He stepped into them and hugged her. When he stepped back, tears were rolling down Gran’s face.
“Where did you find this?” she asked Dad. He just laughed and shrugged.
“What is it, Gran?” I asked. I stepped closer wanting to see why the box was making everyone act so strangely.
“This is my favorite book.” A book? My parents had told me about books but I had never seen one. Mum said that in the old days, e-novs were in codexes you could hold. I’ve seen pictures and I’ve heard of museums where books line the shelves, but I had never seen one.
Gran held the book out to me. On the front, was a picture of a girl. A mountain spread out behind her and the word Heidi was written in yellow. The picture looked strange. It was like an image with the saturation set too low and the contrast below zero.
The urge to touch something so old was uncontrollable. I reached out and took it from Gran’s hand. It was heavier than I expected. Much heavier than my e-nov pocket reader on which I have my 1000 page textbooks for school. It smelled weird. Gran encouraged me to open the book. The paper was dark and my eyes had trouble adjusting to the fibrous texture. I could read the letters but it hurt my eyes. I felt like I was reading in the dark with my reader set to power save.
I handed the book back. It will always be something I remember; holding a book was like holding history, but I don’t know how people relied on them in the old days. They are so heavy, stinky, and hard to read. It really made me appreciate what I have.
– Sina, 2121
Inspired by History and the Future:
What does the future hold? Is a future without physical books possible or will they always be a part of our education and enjoyment? Really, anything is possible. But does it even matter? Change is inevitable. The future holds only whatever we begin today. Nothing can happen tomorrow which is not rooted in yesterday. Books may one day only survive in electronic copy just as the tablet of ancient Roman civilizations only exists as archaeological fragments. Advancement continues. Hold on to what you enjoy but accept whatever tomorrow brings. Preserving knowledge and classical literature is essential, let’s not lose a moment of thought, whatever form that may take.
So, read. Enjoy. Books or e-books — you choose!
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