Hardcopy: In Fond Memory of the Cumulative Book Index (CBI)

Detroit Filling Station. LJ Frank, Photographer

 by LJ Frank



They met at the Detroit Street Filling Station, a vegetarian café near campus, ordered some coffee and sat at a small table outside across from some potted flowers and plants.  

Sheila: Oh god, I really miss it.

Sam: The human aspect?

Sheila: Actually, something more particular. I think you know.

Sam: The CBI? The Cumulative Book Index? In its entirety or a particular year?

Sheila: Well, there was one year. Yeah, I miss it! You know my…well, my preferences. I like hardcopy. The feel of it…the tactile experience. To look at it…It was a visual splendor. So much available.

Sam: I suppose any given volume seemed like an invitation.

Sheila: Hmm. To place my hands on any one of them, and especially that one year, to touch that work, knowing that each page was overflowing with a remarkable amount of information, containing more than a mouthful of titles and so many that are now unavailable, it was a passage to another universe and lifestyle. It possessed an erudite texture, a sense of accumulated knowledge that today…feels absent in the hurried in and out world of the digital.

Sam: It was a thick work of….

Sheila: I like thick.

Sam: How does your current a…partner feel about your…knowledge preferences?

Sheila: I just got a replacement…well you know.

Sam: Upgrade? Software and hardware?

Sheila: Yeah, all of it.