[ 3 min read ]
I think one of the most important arguments in the society about the supremacy of books (and the flaws of the Internet) is that you can find a lot of bullshit online. Yes, there is good stuff, but there is also bullshit. And it’s probably 50/50. You know the warnings, “Don’t trust everything you read on the Internet! Fifty percent of it is nonsense.”
And I am asking: What the hell makes books different? Why do I get the warning that I should not trust everything I read on the Internet and why don’t I get the same warning when it comes to book reading? Why should I assume that when it comes to books fifty percent of it is not nonsense? I mean, it’s nonsense, this assumption that with books it is different. Why should it be different? Can’t people say nonsensical things in their books? Can’t books lie? Can’t books present a biased view of the world? Can’t books present ideas or theories which are ridiculous? Can’t books be terrible?
The idea that books are the best (certainly better than the Internet; of course, one can find and read or listen to books online, but I guess you know what I’m trying to say here — books are considered by the society as a supreme form of conveying thoughts, ideas and messages to people, whether it is a traditional book or an e-book or an audiobook, because that’s the most common conviction; nobody says “Don’t trust everything you read in books! Fifty percent of it is nonsense.”, because that’s not the cliché — such cliché exists but it concerns the Internet and what you can find there) implies that with books (as means of conveying thoughts, ideas and messages to people) it’s different. Why? Nobody really knows. Everybody assumes it is this way, because you can only hear the warnings about stuff you can find online, and not in books.
And why the hell should it be so different with books? Is there some grand jury or other body which says YES to manuscripts which are valuable and NO to the crappy ones? If yes, who sits on that jury or who is the member of this body and why? And why should I trust such body? Why would I let someone else than myself decide what I want in books? Isn’t it a ridiculous idea? Wouldn’t it stifle the whole business of conveying thoughts, ideas and messages to people?
As a matter of fact there is no such body. The only instance when some body decides what should be in books is when there is a censorship (but that’s a different thing). I’m not talking about the freedom of the press here. I’m talking about deciding which books are valuable vs which aren’t valuable (so that you could eliminate the fear that what you might read in them could be rubbish — so that it’s not like with the Internet). Gatekeepers are gone too, since in this day and age anyone can self-publish. And that’s a good thing — best that could have happened as far as book publishing is concerned.