Disappearing Books

I love the solidity of paper books. The feel of a book in my hands coupled with that unique scent which books possess is, surely one of the pleasures of owning physical books. Naturally the greatest joy to be derived from books is the reading of them, however the physicality of books mingles with the reading experience producing a medley of pleasures.

In contrast to physical works e-books have the advantage of allowing the possessor to have a veritable library of literature without the inconvenience of books being piled up throughout their home. There is nothing wrong with having books occupying almost the entire floor of your spare room but unless you are lucky enough to inhabit a mantion there will come a point where one simply runs out of space! Another great advantage of e-books is that most are accessible to blind people such as myself. I can enjoy an e-book using the text to speech facility on my Kindle or Voiceover on my iPad.

Despite the many advantages of e-books they possess one major flaw – there ability to disappear without trace from websites. I recently experienced this for myself when my collection of short stories, “The First Time” vanished from Amazon’s Kindle store. The links still appeared on Google but on clicking on them the dreaded “404 page not found” error raised it’s cheery head. Fortunately I still had the original file on my computer and with the help of a friend “The First Time” was soon back on Amazon, however old broken links are still showing on Google (at the top of the search results) while the new (correct) links languish somewhere near the bottom. Now of course physical books can disappear also. A bookshop or library may take a decision to remove particular works from their shelves or at the more extreme end of the spectrum regimes such as Nazi Germany have burned books by authors of which they disapproved. However even if a book is comprehensively purged the chances are that the book will still survive in the hands of a few individuals to be passed around clandestinely. In contrast e-book retailers can with the aid of technology remotely delete books from devices. In practice this happens rarely due to the perfectly understandable angry reaction provoked among the owners of the works being removed. However in an authoritarian state in which all publishers are either owned by the government or subject to governmental interference one can imagine books disappearing from e-book readers. Don’t like that author because he is a “Conservative”, “Communist”, “Jew”, “Liberal”, “Christian” etc. No problem remotely delete their works from e-book readers. In practice I suspect that some technically savvy individuals would find ways to preserve their copies of banned books but many would no doubt disappear into the virtual trash can. Pause for thought?

I should point out that Amazon did not delete my book from e-readers nor did the company delete it from their site due to concerns over it’s contents. The book was removed due to a misunderstanding and is now, as I said above back up on Amazon and can be found here, http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Time-ebook/dp/B00FJGKY7Y/ref=la_B00CEECWHY_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380885715&sr=1-4

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