Reading Animals

The Library at Night is one of my favourite books. It’s strongly influenced my thinking here at Open Library, and I definitely recommend you read it. I was excited to learn this morning via @MargaretAtwood that Mr. Manguel has released a new book, All Men Are Liars. (Review on

As I was wandering about his website, I stumbled on this passage by Jean-Luc Terradillos on, which I think bears repeating…

Humans can be defined as reading animals, come into the world to decipher it and themselves. The battle of every reader is therefore against the enforced education of stupidity in a consumer society that tries to turn every citizen into a buying automat incapable of reflection. In that sense, the act of reading becomes subversive, since it can lead to questioning and thinking for oneself. The enemy is not, as some would want us to believe, the electronic technology. Manguel argues that the electronic technology is not in competition with the technology of the book: they apply to different fields of creative pursuit and overlap only occasionally; the perceived antagonism between both is fostered by mercantile interests to promote the sale of electronic products, constantly updated less for scientific or intellectual reasons than for purely commercial ones — to sell more computers, not to elicit more ideas.

Speaking of eliciting ideas, that’s exactly what the Internet Archive will be trying to do at our annual October meeting, the theme of which is “Books in Browsers” this year. We’ll post more details online somewhere about the conference as they come to hand.