Electronic bookstore, according to Stanisław Lem, 50 years ago

We maintain this blog by recommending products on the web. If you buy an item by following the links in this post, we may get a small share of the revenue.

In Stanisław Lem’s classic sci-fi book from 1961, Return from the Stars, he describes a store with electronic books.

50 year later some of his predictions appear to be amazingly accurate – like the idea of printing books on demand.

I spent the afternoon in a bookstore. There were no books in it. None had been printed for nearly half a century. And how I have looked forward to them, after the micro films that made up the library of the Prometheus! No such luck. No longer was it possible to browse among shelves, to weigh volumes in hand, to feel their heft, the promise of ponderous reading. The bookstore resembled, instead, an electronic laboratory. The books were crystals with recorded contents. They can be read the aid of an opton, which was similar to a book but had only one page between the covers. At a touch, successive pages of the text appeared on it. But optons were little used, the sales-robot told me. The public preferred lectons – like lectons read out loud, they could be set to any voice, tempo, and modulation. Only scientific publications having a very limited distribution were still printed, on a plastic imitation paper. Thus all my purchases fitted into one pocket, though there must have been almost three hundred titles. My handful of crystal corn – my books. I selected a number of works on history and sociology, a few on statistics and demography, and what the girl from Adapt had recommended on psychology. A couple of the larger mathematical textbooks – larger, of course, in the sense of their content, not of their physical science. The robot that served me was itself an encyclopedia, in that – as it told me – it was linked directly, through electronic catalogs, to templates of every book on earth. As a rule, a bookstore had only single “copies” of books, and when someone needed a particular book, the contents of the work was recorded in a crystal. The originals – Crystomatrices – were not to be seen; they were kept behind pale blue enamel the steel plates. So a book was printed, as it were, every time someone needed it. The question of printings, of their quantity, of their running out, had ceased to exist. Actually, a great achievement, and yet I regretted the passing of books.

Thanks, @CiszaNocna, for finding the quote. For other inspiring visions of the book from famous sci-fi writers check this post.

Via Technovelgy.

• • •

To get more posts like this, please subscribe by RSS or email. Let’s also connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

More to check out:

Featured products - Amazon Fire 7 2017 tablet is thinner and lighter - costs only $49.99

Tips and tricks

Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription in questions and answers

Kindle Unlimited in questions and answers

Kindle Unlimited Q&A: most common questions about Amazon’s ebook subscription answered in a simplest possible way.

Adding large files to Kindle e-reader, Kindle for iOS, Kindle for Android - a complete guide

How to add large files to Kindle and Kindle apps for iOS, Android

Here are ways to add a large personal file to your Kindle e-reader, Kindle for iOS, and Kindle for Android.

Gift ideas

The best gift ideas for Nook owners

8 best gift ideas for the Nook owner in your life

Here are some ideas to let you pick the perfect gift for someone who is addicted to reading Nook books.

Kobo Aura One & Kobo Aura Edition 2 case covers

11 cases for Kobo Aura One and Aura Edition 2

The list includes original Kobo cases for Aura One and Aura Edition 2, as well as covers from other producers, found on Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Rakuten.

Best 50

Best cases and accessories for Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets

50 best Samsung Galaxy Tab cases and accessories in 2017

An updated selection of the best Samsung Galaxy Tab case covers, sleeves, and accessories. Tab A, Tab S3/S2, Tab 4, and more.

50 most inspiring #quotes about #books and #reading

50 motivating quotes about books and reading

A list of most wonderful and motivating quotes about books and reading. Share them as text or pictures.

Let's connect

Share a comment

If you want to discuss the topic or ask a question, please share this post on social media. Make sure to mention us!

You can also contact us directly. Find more details here.

Get free updates via email

Powered by MailChimp
You'll receive email digests on Fridays at 2pm GMT / 10am EST.