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The power of a plain old bookshelf

People who know me well know I like to read a lot. Most books I’ve read in the last few years were in some kind of digital format. Paper books are not as convenient in situations I usually find myself.

There is one issue I have with digital books which changed a lot of things for me - they’re invisible. What I mean is when you visit someone you can quickly glance at the bookshelf and see what’s there. Sometimes it’s a great conversation starter, sometimes a great profiler. A small handmade rack with comic and fantasy books coupled with programming manuals will paint a different picture than a long line of medical journals and modern European history on an expensive shelf. Mint condition dusty books show no use at all, but slightly worn out copies with sticky notes can be a sign of an engaged mind. It’s the same for companies or institutions, and their libraries.

Web and social media have lowered privacy barriers, but the information found online is often faked and filtered. And you probably won’t get access to someone’s Kindle account. People rarely buy books to show off and impress others, mostly it’s for their private interests, education and entertainment. Although I fully support the idea of digital books, I will still miss the glimpse into someone’s mind in the form of a plain old bookshelf.


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