Saturday, December 12, 2015

The end of reading


The end of reading arrived at a nondescript, large suburban library in Minnesota on the night of December 9, 2015, at 7:42 in the evening. Said library has long been one of the highest materials circulating public libraries for its size in the nation. Local library administrators had been forecasting the end of reading for fifteen years. They had planned accordingly. They looked like deranged cultists predicting the end of the world, never relenting in their mania of doom even as more and more people poured into the library to check out more and more of its never increasing collection.

But that wave broke. And what any doomsayer knows is that the predictions of doomsayers must all come true eventually. It's simply a matter of waiting.

Well here it is then, the end of reading. Run for the hills libraries. Close your doors now forever bookstores. Make up your own ideas for movies, Hollywood. Cap your pens novelists. And Amazon? You may want to consider diversifying your product line beyond books.

The poets and bloggers can keep going though. I mean, same diff.

At the large suburban library, on the night when the end of reading arrived, the million dollar check in machine sat idle for 37 straight minutes. When nothing has been checked out there is nothing to return. All the library workers were dozing in their chairs. Was the end of reading coming?

But lo. A noise!  What's that? The automated door opens! The roller and laser eyes engage. Three books are coming down the line! Hooray, three books are coming. Books to sort. Books to file. Books to push about on carts! Books to peruse. Books to fix. Books to stack. Books to display and feature and recommend. Three books!

Come librarians, come clerks and pages, come janitorial workers, and come oh you volunteer with a developmental disability. Come gather round the great check in machine who gives us work and has finally stirred from its deep slumber. Come and rejoice. Here come the books running down the line! Three books!

Hey, these aren't our books! These are low quality donations. These are unwanted books, foundling books, orphan books abandoned again at our door. Oh waily! Lo! This is all we are to receive, unwanted books all, for hard truth has broken through our gates, the end of reading has come.

Turn out the lights. Shut the doors and wrap them in chains. Burn the recommendation lists and the wooden displays to keep warm. Go home and bar your doors. The long cold has come and the Enlightenment is over. Forget the letters of the alphabet. You will need them no more. Close down your imagination. Put knick knacks on your bookshelves and keep your knowledge to yourself. There is no light left on in bookland, for the end of reading has come at last.


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