In this week’s Dispatches from the Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle ponders the strange pull of bibliosmia by getting his nose literally into a book
‘There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel.’ So Ray Bradbury, author of the nightmare dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 about a world where books are burned, dismissed the long-term future of electronic books. And certainly, recent sales figures suggest that the traditional book is holding its own: as Rick Rylance points out in his detailed study of the value of books, Literature and the Public Good (The Literary Agenda), a UK Reading Habits survey conducted in 2015 showed that 71% of respondents didn’t use e-boos at all, and 76% preferred the traditional book to its electronic equivalent. Just 10% preferred e-books, with the remaining 14% presumably neutral. In the same year, sales of e-books dropped…
Tears streamed down the old man’s face as the policeman placed his hand on top of his head to help him duck as he got in the back of the patrol car. He flopped back in the seat and continued to sob. “I’d do it all over again. I’m not sorry. The children will understand…I know they will.”
Patrolman Shaw looked over his shoulder at the frail figure behind the cage-like screen as they pulled away from the shabby house on Thomas Avenue. “That doesn’t change the fact that you’re going to jail, old timer. Murder is murder.”
“Not when it’s for love,” the white-haired prisoner whimpered. He closed his eyes and replayed the last fifty-seven years in his tired mind. Ah yes, she was quite the looker. However, the first thing he’d noticed about her was her laugh. It had a lilt to it that…
VanSant pulled a pipe from his inside pocket, opened a pouch of tobacco, pinched a bit between his fingers and began tapping it into the bowl. “You don’t mind if I have a smoke, do you Mae?”
“Of course not, my father smokes a pipe every evening and I’ve grown accustomed to the aroma of a fine tobacco.” This man doesn’t need to know I lived above a tailor’s shop in a tiny apartment with four other people. I can tell him whatever story I want, and he has no way of knowing if I’m telling the truth or not! This encouraged Mae to expand on her tale. “Why, when my family received the ambassador from Cuba, he presented my father with a sterling silver tin filled with the very finest tobacco the island had to offer.”
“My, my! That is impressive, Mae,” VanSant said and lit his pipe.