On Books


“What knowledge is this which thieves may steal, mice or moths eat up, fire or water destroy?”

— 13th-century Parisian preacher in a sermon on elaborately bound books.  

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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5 Responses to On Books

  1. paulobro says:

    Bound books are dead.
    Long live digital books!

  2. Ryan Starkey says:

    I’d have to say that nothing can really replace the feel of a book, the sound of turning pages, the thrill of finding an out of the way used book store, etc. I think it’s a tactile, multiple sensory thing. While E- books are useful (I use them at work for manuals) the library I pass on to my children won’t be in a Kindle.

    • I suspect the 13th-century clergyman was not referencing digital books.

      The message is more like: Owning books is not the same as reading them. Knowledge in books (or e-books) is worthless and can disappear if unread.

  3. fitz says:

    I’ve not done enough research to support this assertion, but one of my medieval lit teachers oft stated that until around 1200, one could actually know all there possibly was to know. Few if any did, likely, but the idea of it astounds me. Now, we as a whole actually know comparatively little – though we can read about anything and everything if we care to.

    • hgordon4 says:

      Intriguing thought, but it seems unlikely. The great library in Alexandria, constructed in the 3rd century BC, almost certainly contained more accumulated knowledge than any one person could retain. In medieval Europe perhaps a fair amount of that knowledge had been misplaced…
      At any rate, there was still an immense amount of accumulated knowledge by 1200 AD. Although that has increased by orders of magnitude from then to the present day.

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