I like this piece by Andrew Couts, who argues that the only point to maintaining a library of physical books is to demonstrate your academic sophistication and snobbery.
Of course, this isn’t entirely true. Especially in schools, it’s important that students see real, physical books in classrooms. Otherwise, reading becomes even more private, where the reading “have-nots” are marginalized.
But once students are reading, there’s no need to keep buying the same physical books, over and over, and waiting for them to get lost or torn or overly used or stuck on shelves.
“My book collection, I realized this weekend, is one of the few things in my home that makes me seem smart. Visitors step into my living room to see shelves and shelves of tomes – Hemingway, McCarthy, Kafka, Tolstoy, Franzen, Sedaris, Bukowski, Fitzgerald – each creased spine revealing more about my interests and intellect. At least, that’s what my subconscious likes to believe. Just as vacation photographs show off where we’ve been, books show where our minds have traveled. They have, in other words, become little more than an elaborate way to brag.