As a sometimes aspiring writer, I cannot imagine a world without books. My fiancee' cannot imagine a world with as many books as I try to cram onto an office library wall, but that is another topic altogether. Books are a direct passage into the wandering recesses of our brains, encapsulating knowledge as idea, moment, or discipline as well as a writer could possibly hope to capture it for posterity.
I remember elementary school days, when Scholastic provided book order forms to teachers so that pupils in their class could order straight from the source on all the best children's stories of the day; this was before big chain bookstores and Amazon. I would always leaf excitedly through those order form pages, dreaming about having the infinite time and money to buy up the list: "Rover", "The Indian in the Cupboard", and anything by Dr. Seuss. If I was fortunate, my mother would cave on my simple requests, and the order form would turn into a submission envelope that I would march back to school so my teacher could send it off with the class order. Then, I would anticipate a glorious day 2-3 weeks later when my teacher would hand down the neatly bundled Scholastic book club selections I convinced my mother to order; such a simple pleasure, but it was so exciting to handle those newly arrived books for the first time.
Most of my childhood books are gone now (no doubt stuffing bookshelves at my parent's house!), but I have kept the book-buying habit and feed my addiction as often as my budget allows. I still find pleasure browsing through the selection on display at the local Barnes & Noble. Times have changed: there is usually a Starbucks adjoining, and the tables are always full of punk-ish high school kids or nerdish types slaving over textbooks with iPods cabled to their bodies. Somehow, those agitant groups find room to coexist among books, just as all sorts of books with their opposing ideas have come to coexist on the bookshelves in my office at home. And in that coexistence, I find hope that the following generations will continue to appreciate what a treasure books can be, and that as much as our age becomes a digital one, there will be room enough to accommodate the sort of pleasure I experienced as a child upon cracking open the spine of a fresh paperback for the first time.