Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why buy a $245 Summa when you can get it for 99 cents on a Kindle?

For some time to come Loome Theological Booksellers is committed to reminding discerning readers of the many advantages that physical books have over eBooks.  eBooks get most of the good press these days (and occasionally bad press) and since the format is still new and only available on status enhancing devices, the momentum of many readers is to embrace them.  Loome Theological Booksellers is not against eBooks as much as we are FOR physical books.

Today's discussion is provoked by the suggestion here that it is better to obtain your Summa for 99 cents in the electronic format rather than for $245 in the thick five volume hardcover format.  The matter is a question of what will a physical Summa do that an electronic Summa can't.

A physical Summa will:

  • Have a physical presence on a shelf (preferably) the effects of which are varied and beneficial:
    • Raise the heart and mind to God:
      • in thanksgiving for Aquinas
      • in humility for understanding of the Summa
      • in supplication for quiet time to read and study the Summa
      • in fervor to live a life of virtue
    • Insulation - a wall of books (of which the Summa would provide a substantial part) keeps in the heat and out the cold.  We know this well from years of winters in our unheated "Great Room" at the bookstore.
    • Call to knowledge - objects that are large and heavy draw our attention.  The physical Summa draws to the intellectual life by it's quiet substantial presence.
  • Endure.  A physical Summa, because it endures, can be loaned out to . . . well, others you might know who would read the Summa.  It can be borrowed.  It can also be passed on after death.  It lasts longer than it's original owner.  It can go to Christians in Africa where there aren't eReaders.  It can be smuggled into underground seminaries.  The physical Summa has freedom, the eBook Summa is chained to an eReader.
Are these attributes of a physical Summa worth $244.01?  Can our blog readers think of any more advantages to the physical Summa?

Physical books endure - that is their value.

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