Do you suppose that during the Middle Ages the Friends of the Monastery held an annual fair at which illuminated manuscripts were sold to the few who could read?
Perhaps. And perhaps those fairs evaporated when paper replaced vellum.
Will the same thing happen to book fairs when e-books replace print books?
Well, the jury still is out on the demise of printed books. Seventy percent of Americans read printed books, according to a survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, as opposed to 4 percent who exclusively read e-books.
And Pew Research Center finds that 69 percent of Americans read at least one printed book a year, while 28 percent read at least one e-book.
A recent Harris Poll of 2,234 adults found that 84 percent said they read at least one book a year. Forty-six percent read only printed books; 17 percent read printed books and e-books; 15 percent read more e-books than printed books; and 6 percent read only e-books.
Printed books, then, still seem the preferred way to read for most Americans who read.
Though the number of people who read electronically is growing rapidly. The Princeton survey found that half of American adults own an e-reader or tablet. Twenty-eight percent in the Pew survey have read an e-book. And 54 percent of those polled by Harris said they read e-books.
But books aren’t an endangered species, yet.
And I know a real good place to get books.
On Aug. 1 and 2 the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library will hold its 44th annual book fair at Oak Park-River Forest High School, 201 N. Scoville Ave., Oak Park. Aug. 1 hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a $5 admission. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with free admission.
Typically, the fair has more than 100,000 items for sale, including books, records, CDs, DVDs, videos and audio tapes.
Donations may be brought until July 28 to the Scoville Ave. entrance of the high school.
Volunteers are needed to sort and price donations. (Hardbound books go for $2, paperbacks for 50 cents.) Fair proceeds support the library’s programs.
For more information, go to oppl.org/friends.
So, the cause is worthy. The fair is fun.
And there are books. Books. Wonderful books.