Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


The Brooklyn bookshop saving out-of-print sci-fi, one e-book at a time: The genre enthusiasts are working with rights holders to preserve great book

With its dramatic cover art and fantastical story plots, science fiction dared readers to dream of amazing possible futures filled with aliens, robots, and all sorts of gadgetry. Now, ironically, some of the earliest books of the genre find themselves precariously near extinction, never to make it to the future they describe. Until Singularity & Co came onto the scene, that is.

This is a fantastic idea. One sad thing is the response by some libraries that own the books that are to be saved:
Despite being out of copyright, none of the universities who owned a copy of Mr. Stranger's Sealed Packet permitted scanning. "If you're part of that university or that consortium then you have access to that book. If you don't then you don't," said James. "Which is sad," added Kalb, "the default position of the organisation seems to be, 'I don't know if this is valuable but, just in case it is, I want to make sure nobody else gets their hands on it.'"

I'm sure there were lots of reasons such as how rare the book has become and the need to preserve, but isn't that ironic considering these people are trying to preserve them? And one thing we were taught in library school is while the physical object is important (and often have a beauty in and of themselves, thinking of mediaeval manuscripts, beautiful marbled end papers, luscious illustrations, and yes, even lurid pulp magazine covers), it is the information inside that is most treasured.

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