With the rise of the e-book, there are many people who have asked the question when does a book become a book. In a recent Atlantic article, Madrigal says:
In the Kindle era, it seems pretty obvious. There is an implicit argument in the act of digitizing a book and removing it from the shelf: a book is its text. A book is a unique string of words, as good as its bits.
But printed books are also objects, manufactured objects, owned objects, objects that have been marked by pencils and time and coffee cups and the oils from our skin. “A book is more than a bag of words,” the project’s founder, University of Virginia’s Andrew Stauffer, told me. “These books as objects have a lot to tell us.”
There is considerable interest in what will happen to these e-books and their authors if there is no record of the work in print. Some have called this the digital dark age. We deal with this everyday as we receive manuscripts and urge authors to their most marketable audience. If this is in the e-book realm, we want our authors to succeed. But there has to come a point when there is more preservation for these works of art than just in the digital realm, right?