I was always the student who found the footnote much more interesting than the main block of text.- Ben Schott
Me too! This year for Christmas I both wished for and received two of Ben Schott's beauties, Ben Schott's Almanac 2007 and Ben Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany.
These books are highly enjoyable in that they're as full of facts as an Ikea is of impossibly heavy boxes*. For this reason, I was delighted to see this interview with Ben Schott himself today.
In part, he says:
Why not put all this stuff on a website with links out to government sites and other sources? Why lock these facts into the most old-fashioned medium possible? Are you being willfully antiquated?
No, it's not willful at all. First of all, I love books. When you can lend a website to a friend, when you can take it on holiday, when you can fold it up and put in your pocket, when you can scribble marginalia, when you can get suntan lotion and sand all over its pages, when you can admire it as an object, when you can hurl a website across the room in disgust, then maybe I'll be fully convinced.
I'm sure someone's working on that right now.
I'm sure they are. But this book probably wouldn't really be possible without the Internet because I use the Internet a lot. Now, when I say that, I don't mean I go surf Google or Wikipedia and just take what I get. In many ways, the Internet is just a faster cab to the library.
*Seriously, a single girl cannot carry that bookshelf. She would buy it if she could.