Library Phantom and ebooks

KindleHave you heard about the Library Phantom? If not, read this article on NPR. In a nutshell, an anonymous woman has been creating amazing sculptures out of old books and leaving them in libraries in the U.K. “In support of … books, words and ideas,” wrote the artist.

While it seems a shame to tear up an old book, there’s no denying that if an old book is going to have a new life, it would love to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or a street scene with a moon, or a gorgeous wren with puffed up feathers.

This artist obviously loves books, allowing the old yellowing pages to tell a new story through sculpture. And then placing her artwork in the places that love books the most: libraries.

Reading this article made me feel nostalgic for libraries and printed books. This is premature, of course, as there are still plenty of both, but with the popularity of ebooks on the rise, the future is going to look much different.

I loved going to my local library when I was a kid. I still remember walking in, shaking the snow off my boots and pulling my hands out of my mittens (my memory is in winter, for some reason) so I could choose a new book to read. Seeing all those books on the library shelves, I felt like the Book Thief. So many choices. So many stories. I couldn’t wait to read them all.

In 20 years, how many physical libraries will be left, where young readers will be able to stare up at the shelves in awe? How will an inspired artist be able to sculpt a bee-colored glove out of a Kindle?

For all my nostalgia, I am a fan of ebooks. Ereaders save trees, and the production of ebooks is less expensive for the industry, which can allow more books to be published. On a practical side, ereaders are great for traveling (I bought my busy traveller dad a Kindle last year so he could stop lugging around 10 books with him every trip) and for the gym (one of the reasons I’d like to get an ereader one of these days).

And ereaders have encouraged gadget-loving former readers to come back to books, which is the best news of all. With their interactive capabilities, ereaders are going to allow authors and publishers to reach new levels with books, and that can only help reluctant readers to discover a love for stories.

It’s a new future and good things are coming. I only hope that libraries and paper books will still be a part of it.


What do you think?