Coding in Paradise

About Brad Neuberg

Books That Never Should Have Been Books

Joseph Tito, who held together the contradiction that was Yugoslavia, not unlike the contradictions of genres print books hold together today, but not for long.

As the book digitizes its revealing previously unnoticed schisms between genres, like a kind of fracturing Yugoslavia. 

In the past printing words on dead trees was the only game in town, a pre-historic pulp Internet where the packets were books themselves. This created a flourishing world of genres that flowed through this paper Internet: literary fiction, non-fiction, comic books, cook books, textbooks, encyclopedias, and more.

Many of these "books" never should have been books in the first place. For example, encyclopedias always stressed what dead tree paper was capable of. They strove to be authoritative, up to date, truly accessible, both wide and deep, and more. The rise of Wikipedia showed that encyclopedias never made sense on dead paper, at which point they promptly disappeared. Remember how heavy print encyclopedias were? How they never truly covered all topics? How they fell out of date?

The Kindle and Amazon have shown that ordinary literary books have a place on our digital screens, works like To the Lighthouse by Virginia Wolf. No need to change these in any significant way when placed into a digital container.

What about cook books though, or text books, or travel books? None of these were ever very good books to be honest. Text books are heavy, out of date, and don't incorporate a variety of ways to educate someone on a subject, like audio, video, interactivity, and more. Or how about cook books? Why would I ever want a physical cookbook that doesn't have HD video teaching me key techniques or the ability to automatically change all recipes based on the number of guests I have?

Things like text books should never have been physical books in the first place, its just that those were the only game in town. No more.

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