Monday, September 30, 2013
Atlas Holds Steady
Let me just say, I am not the map guy. Whatever the chromosome that makes a man love a map, I don't have. I am not "the navigator" on road-trips, in fact, I don't even much like road-trips. (I am not much of a traveller, come to that. If I could fall asleep in my own bed and wake up next morning wherever it is I was going, that would be perfect.)
Atlases I understand a bit better, as they are reference books, and I have the greatest respect for good reference. An atlas, I confess, I've never owned. I just have never needed to know the distance between Paris and Versailles. Perhaps I'm too trusting, but I just assume that Carlyle worked all that out for me before he sent the Sans-culottes down the road (or was it up? No matter.) I like the idea of an atlas. I like the traditionally over-sized importance of them, as books. I've rarely consulted one, or looked through one, unless someone else, a customer or coworker usually, asked me to.
I had thought the Internet would kill the atlas almost before it killed any other standard reference work, but I now think I was wrong about that. In our house, I don't know that we would ever find our way to the multiplex now, let alone a doctor's appointment in a new clinic, without the lovely ladies at the other end of OnStar. (We like that turn by turn security.) The lovers of maps and atlases however, much as they might while away their evenings peering into their neighbor's backyard on Google Maps, seem to still want the full, weighty, totality of an atlas and the pleasurable puzzle of refolding a map. As I've said, I don't have whatever that is, myself. It may be an evolutionary advantage already being met by other means, new technologies and new digital interactions. I wouldn't know. It does hoever seem to be something lots of people, and not all of them grandparents, would seem inclined to pass on.
An atlas is, it seems, still a gift.
Posted by usedbuyer 2.0 at 9:40 PM
Labels: atlas, bookselling, internet, publishing, reference books, Thomas Carlyle
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