Why Digital Texts Need A New Library Of Alexandria — With Physical Books | Techdirt

Via Scoop.itdigital culture
Amidst the growing enthusiasm for digital texts — ebooks and scans of illustrated books — it’s easy to overlook some important drawbacks. First, that you don’t really own ebooks, as various unhappy experiences with Amazon’s Kindle have brought home. Secondly, that a scan of an illustrated book is only as good as the scanning technology that is available when it is made: there’s no way to upgrade a scan to higher quality images without rescanning the whole thing. Both of these make clear why it’s good to have physical copies as well as digital versions: analog books can’t be deleted easily, and you can re-scan them as technology improves.
But there’s a problem: as more people turn to digital books as their preferred way of consuming text, libraries are starting to throw out their physical copies. Some, because nobody reads them much these days; some, because they take up too much space, and cost too much to keep; some, even on the grounds that Google has already scanned the book, and so the physical copy isn’t needed. Whatever the underlying reason, the natural assumption that we can always go back to traditional libraries to digitize or re-scan works is looking increasingly dubious.
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