Thursday, December 1, 2011

"[E-books] smell like burned fuel."—Ray Bradbury

Source photo from: Wikipedia

"At age 91, Ray Bradbury is making peace with the future he helped predict.
     The science fiction/fantasy author and long-time enemy of the e-book has finally allowed his dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451 to be published in digital format. Simon & Schuster released the electronic edition Tuesday.
     First published in 1953, Fahrenheit 451 has sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into 33 languages. It imagined a world in which the appetite for new and faster media leads to a decline in reading, and books are banned and burned.
     Bradbury himself has been an emphatic defender of traditional paper texts, saying that e-books 'smell like burned fuel' and calling the Internet nothing but 'a big distraction.' "
— The Globe and Mail

"Scientists may not be able to tell a good book by its cover, but they now can tell the condition of an old book by its smell. In a report in ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal, they describe development of a new test that can measure the degradation of old books and precious historical documents based on their smell. The nondestructive 'sniff' test could help libraries and museums preserve a range of prized paper-based objects, some of which are degrading rapidly due to advancing age, the scientists say. [...]
     The new technique, called 'material degradomics,' analyzes the gases emitted by old books and documents without altering the documents themselves. They used it to 'sniff' 72 historical papers from the 19th and 20th centuries, including papers containing rosin (pine tar) and wood fiber, which are the most rapidly degrading paper types in old books. The scientists identified 15 VOCs [volatile organic compounds] that seem good candidates as markers to track the degradation of paper in order to optimize their preservation. The method also could help preserve other historic artifacts, they add."
— Michael Berstein, EurekAlert
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From: Breathing Books

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