How do you put a value on things that have no price? …
I was looking in the local charity or good-will shops last Monday and came across a couple of atlases in the bargain bin of one of them.
Everything in it was 20 pence.
There isn't much yo can buy in Britain these days for 20p. Except for what else you might pick up in a charity shop, I don't think you can find anything.
Back in the day when a 20p coin was called 2 shillings it would have bought you a pint of beer or a loaf and more.
Back when itr was called a florin, it might have been a workman's wages for the day and been made with silver. Adulterated but even so…
You know when you examne an opld book, the corners tend to be banged a bit and often as not the spine will be a bit ropey. These things didn't look like they had even been used.
Some dickhead had written their mark inside: X 3, in small "letters" that just spoiled it. Apart from that the pages hadn't been opened.
Nobody wants huge text books these days. The quality of the paper and the production of the plates as first class buit compared to what you can find on any old computer…
Don't you think that is a shame.
If you offered a person an unused computer that cost as much as a thousand pounds back in the early 1990's they would just laugh at you.
What would you expect them to do with a computer that came with 4 megabytes of RAM?
And yet in its day this was cutting edge technology already replacing encyclopaedias. It was possible to get a collection of books on CD that would tak a town's public library to house.
These days with 4 core chips common and the 64 bit operating system architceture, computers are so fast that any further development of them for the home or office desktop is pointless. What is holding them back now in Britain is the development of the networking side of thinkgs. Internet connection.
But even relatively slow copper connections are astounding. Nobody bothers with books these days because if you want to know something ANYTHING you just tap it into your computer and you have the answer on tap.
And these days it is taking its toll on the public library system.
Nobody goes to libraries these days.
Only old people like me and the very young.
It's the end of a culture.
I feel sorry for the way things are but an hundred years ago when Andrew Carnegie gave his fortuneto set them up, what sort pof life style did it replace?
Was a more vibrant culture that learned everything at the cutting edge; turned soft by a generation taught at desks?
Boys brought up with silly ideas gained from pedlars of literature?
Softened with learned reasonings?
And thinking themselves more clever than their fathers?
Was it ever any different?
Who can tell?
The world Atlas I got is a very old book.
It calls the north west of Asia the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics. The Soviet Union was replaced in the late 1990'2 by a new breed of Russians and newly freed eastern European surfs.
A lot of them came over here to make the most of our version of socialism and do the sorts of jobs nobody was willing to do, until they were populous enough to change our economy.
Which was in any case corrupt enough to fall on its own, which it did 20 years after Russia.
And here I am now treasuring a text book that was cutting edge in the mid 1980's an era when the President of the Russian Empire Mikhail Gorbachev was talking about Perestroika
It must have been a glorious heartbreak for the makers of this Atlas to see it go so quickly out of date. I wonder how long it lingered on which bookshelves unopened all those years until it was given to a shop run by a chartable trust.
I suppose I will never know.
But I am not interested in Russia. I am not interested in North America come to that.
I want to know what the places on the coast of Antarctica are called and I am interestd in the shape of the oceans. And this is the book for me.