Well, you’re going to have to. I kind of actually like how he divides up this one when talking about what we’ll lose as the private library disappears from our homes.
The architecture of our lives is constantly changing, and the library may be next on the list of rooms that grow vestigial and then vanish from our floor plans. Where it survives, it has merged with the “office” or the “den,” and the language of the contemporary home, which stresses flow and openness, doesn’t bode well for the survival of a room that should stand apart, a quiet eddy to the side of the busy torrent of modern life. The library, alas, may go the way of the separate dining room and the formal parlor, not because we won’t read anymore, but because we won’t read books anymore, at least not books printed on paper.
But what a loss to the ways books represent, bedevil and impeach us. They represent us, of course, as anyone knows who has made basic decisions about which books go in the living room and which get confined to less public places. That they bedevil us is clear if you have moved recently or live burdened with closets filled with books — books under the bed, books in the attic — or if you have ever saved a book for years or decades only to discover, upon desperately needing it, that it has been lost in the general deluge of too many books.
But they also impeach us, and it is that function that electronic readers can never replicate. A wall of books is mortality made geometric, a pattern of hope and loss, ambition and failure.