A Book’s Worth

In a recent piece in the NPR Books section, writer Amanda Katz asks an interesting question: Will Your Children Inherit Your E-Books? She writes:

‘But when I think of sorting through the boxes of my grandmother’s books — even the ones we couldn’t keep, or didn’t want —and what we found there, I am grateful not to have been handed her Amazon password instead. Among all the gifts of the electronic age, one of the most paradoxical might be to illuminate something we are beginning to trade away: the particular history, visible and invisible, that can be passed down through the vessel of an old book, inscribed by the hands and the minds of readers who are gone.’

Katz’s question arises as a response to Leah Price’s latest book, How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain. Among many other questions Price’s book ponders, How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain asks how our present culture came to frown on using books for any purpose other than reading. From knickknacks to wastepaper, Price argues that books mattered to the Victorians in ways that cannot be explained by their printed content alone. And whether displayed, defaced, exchanged, or discarded, printed matter participated, and still participates, in a range of transactions that stretches far beyond reading.

In the digital age of e-Readers, devices, and digital media, what benefits do we sacrifice—that are both tangible and intangible?

Check out the Introduction to Price’s book, here.


  1. I read this recently and really enjoyed it.