This is an awesome recent yard sale score - 47 Franklin Press leather-bound, gold-leaf classics for $25. I honestly don't know how useful a second copy (or the first for that matter) of Moby Dick will be in a deindustrial subsistence future, but then maybe "useful" shouldn't always be the main judgement criterion, especially when applied to literature. What might be most useful where we live is a dehumidifier!
This is our beautiful neighborhood - moderate climate, relatively healthy forests, reliable rainfall, chattering creeks, and book-eating mold and mildew! How in the world will we keep all those great books intact without the drying effects of AC? Certainly brings up some big questions about the shape of literacy in the future. Humidity destroys electronics, too, so that nifty little Kindle is probably just as doomed. Surely it's no accident that the bulk of civilized literature that emerged from the Dark Ages was preserved in the dry desert air of the Middle East. But European monks did pretty well, too, and if we want to keep all those pages in readable condition we'll have to work it out. Any advice on the matter would be appreciated. We have plenty of anti-fungal herbal oils around - that's part of our business after all - but the application methods are unknown to me at this point. High quality printings, in book sleeves as often as possible, should get a lot farther down the road, but I think it's safe to assume that a deindustrial future will be a future of compromised literacy. Probably a natural trajectory though. Book literacy is really only necessary in a culture that requires it. Masanobu Fukuoka was a good example of a civilized visionary who didn't buy the argument that the merit of literacy was self-evident. For my part in this play, however, I'm going to do what I can to keep my descendents in books.