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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Karl Miller" <[log in to unmask]>
>   And, if you want a book, you go to Barnes and Noble or amazon.com or
abebooks.com or...
>
And if you do...they will gladly sell you a hard-copy, ink-and-paper
"book!" (and may charge you for the cost of shipping that to you, as
well!). While this is satisfactory (albeit a bit on the expensive
side, as well as consuming ever-diminishing resources) for fictional
works, the fact is that in almost all cases, the search, sort and such
capabilities of "reference book as digital database" make that a much
more efficient, as well as faster, form for such entities.

Now, we collectors being what we are, there will probably always be
collectors of some types of books...first editions, inscribed or
autographed (as well as heavily annotated) copies, or books with
impressive provenances. As well, book lovers may wind up in the
same category as us 78 lovers...insisting that there is some sort
of "magic" in the experience of accessing our beloved objects
beyond merely accessing the contents.

But...if a book contains, say, 100,000 words...it can probably be
converted to a <1MB formatted-text file which is easily and quickly
e-mailable. What we might see, in fact, is a rebirth of dot-matrix
printing...which could provide a readable copy for less than a dollar's
worth of "consumables" for those who prefer that form of reading!

More later...

Steven C. Barr