Remember books - those musty, dog-eared volumes of text with paper pages stitched or glued together, jacket covers and actual spines? They once were housed in places called libraries and cataloged in alphabetical and numerical stacks where card-carrying bibliophiles could wander the shelves in search of their selection.
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Although this sounds like a tale from Ye Olden Days that children of the future will hear from grandpa's knee, there's no need to wait for the future, kids - the storytelling is about the begin.
That's because the nation's first public book-free library is set to open this fall in San Antonio, Texas. Serving residents of Bexar County, the new bookless library, called BiblioTech, will lend out e-readers for two weeks at a time.
"If you want to get an idea what it looks like, go into an Apple store," Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff told the San Antonio Express.
Inspired by Apple founder Steve Jobs' biography, Wolff said he imagines several book-free libraries around the country and into the suburbs. BiblioTech will occupy a prototype location on San Antonio's south side.
"It's not a replacement for the (city) library system, it's an enhancement," said Wolff. "People are always going to want books, but we won't be doing that in ours."
Residents will be able to take home one of the 100 e-readers that are tentatively planned for check out. Although the devices are expected to each cost $100, Wolff said he's not worried about theft.
"We do have your name, we do have your address. You check it out for two weeks, just like a library book," he said. "In two weeks, your e-book goes dead, so you won't have anything worth keeping."
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Though I'm hesitant to be the disgruntled Luddite railing against technological progress, as a book lover with a healthy collection and fondness for libraries, I have my reservations about BiblioTech. What about you? Do you welcome a bookless future or does this spell the downfall of literature as we know it?
Regardless, I'm going to go give my book shelf a big hug.
Credit: My San Antonio.com