Friday, 9 May 2014

Writing - Longevity of the written word

As I get older my interest in the past deepens. I don't believe that is a unique tendency rather a human one. The value of history of course is not just looking back for nostalgia's sake but to actually examine previous events and reflect forward to aid development of society in the future.

I was thrust into this train of thought by an article in the BBC History magazine which was about Elizabeth I war on the Catholic church. You may wonder how that has any relevance to writing but it is the longevity of books that tweaked my interest.

Queen from 1558 - 1603

In 1828 at Rushton Hall a book was discovered by builders which led to the discovery of a secret room containing a bundle of papers and books that belonged Sir Thomas Tresham a Catholic gentleman who lived during the reign of the Virgin Queen. At the time of discovery those papers and books were around 250 years old.

Reflect forward and consider ebooks and their longevity. If we publish only in the electronic form where and how long will those books be kept? The answer possibly is in cyberspace forever but we all know that situations change. Things happen and cyberspace is not infinite. We can't wrap an ebook and seal it inside a secret room. I like the fact that there are the concrete realities of the stories I write, this may be old-fashioned but it feels good to hold the books.

So much has been learnt about our past from volumes and manuscripts that have been unearthed  over the years if everything ends up in the electronic ether how will that happen? In my last novel Cessation, I speculate the demise of power, what would happen to our ebooks then?

I would recommend that we always have at least one paper copy of our works.

God Bless