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Customer Review

on 23 March 2002
Anyone who reads books that are more than, say, fifty years old will be familiar with the claim that they are "brittle" - which is to say, they are prone to disintegration. In the second half of last century, a large number of philistines and governmental agitators - principally in the US - decided that the solution to this perceived problem lay in microfilming all their old books. Anyone who has worked with microfilm will know what an unsatisfactory alternative to a real hard copy it is. Worse still, the best way to make a microfilm involves destroying the original.
Nicholson Baker's meticulously researched, passionate, faintly paranoid jeremiad on the subject of microfilm, libraries and the wholesale destruction of printed material is a fable for our times - iluustrating perfectly the way fans of digitization etc. will doctor their statistics to support their claims. You emerge from Baker's entertaining, detailed rant with the distinct suspicion that librarians are a tribe of vandals and governments will do anything so long as it promises to trim their budget. Frightening.
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