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  • Transcriber: TED Translators admin Reviewer: Krystian Aparta

  • I will lend books to people, but of course, the rule is

  • "Don't do that unless you never intend to see that book again."

  • [Small thing.]

  • [Big idea.]

  • The physical object of a book is almost like a person.

  • I mean, it has a spine and it has a backbone.

  • It has a face.

  • Actually, it can sort of be your friend.

  • Books record the basic human experience

  • like no other medium can.

  • Before there were books,

  • ancient civilizations would record things

  • by notches on bones or rocks or what have you.

  • The first books as we know them originated in ancient Rome.

  • We go by a term called the codex,

  • where they would have two heavy pieces of wood

  • which become the cover,

  • and then the pages in between would then be stitched along one side

  • to make something that was relatively easily transportable.

  • They all had to completely be done by hand,

  • which became the work of what we know as a scribe.

  • And frankly, they were luxury items.

  • And then a printer named Johannes Gutenberg,

  • in the mid-fifteenth century, created the means to mass-produce a book,

  • the modern printing press.

  • It wasn't until then

  • that there was any kind of consumption of books by a large audience.

  • Book covers started to come into use in the early nineteenth century,

  • and they were called dust wrappers.

  • They usually had advertising on them.

  • So people would take them off and throw them away.

  • It wasn't until the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century

  • that book jackets could be seen as interesting design

  • in and of themselves.

  • Such that I look at that and I think,

  • "I want to read that.

  • That interests me."

  • The physical book itself represents both a technological advance

  • but also a piece of technology in and of itself.

  • It delivered a user interface

  • that was unlike anything that people had before.

  • And you could argue that it's still the best way

  • to deliver that to an audience.

  • I believe that the core purpose of a physical book

  • is to record our existence

  • and to leave it behind on a shelf, in a library, in a home,

  • for generations down the road to understand where they came from,

  • that people went through some of the same things

  • that they're going through,

  • and it's like a dialogue that you have with the author.

  • I think you have a much more human relationship to a printed book

  • than you do to one that's on a screen.

  • People want the experience of holding it,

  • of turning the page, of marking their progress in a story.

  • And then you have, of all things, the smell of a book.

  • Fresh ink on paper or the aging paper smell.

  • You don't really get that from anything else.

  • The book itself, you know, can't be turned off with a switch.

  • It's a story that you can hold in your hand

  • and carry around with you

  • and that's part of what makes them so valuable,

  • and I think will make them valuable for the duration.

  • A shelf of books, frankly,

  • is made to outlast you, (Laughs)

  • no matter who you are.

Transcriber: TED Translators admin Reviewer: Krystian Aparta

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A2 US TED nineteenth big idea century physical shelf

Why books are here to stay | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series

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    crystallmk posted on 2020/02/19
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