I was discussing the tracking down of research material with a friend and fellow historical writer today, and while explaining why I prefer to have a physical book for reference over a website link (even if they contained the exact same material) I wrote the following line:

Out of SITE, out of mind. 

If information is tucked away on a website somewhere in the vast and sprawling internet (or my equally sprawling Bookmarked list), or a hard drive file on my computer, inevitably I bookmark it, or save it, then promptly forget its existence.

Whereas if it’s in book form, sitting in a pile on my desk, or the table beside my desk, on the floor by the desk, or one of the bookcases surrounding my desk, then one glance at the pile or the dust jacket or the appropriate subject spot on the shelf and I see it. I know it’s there. No Googling needed.

And I just love being surrounded by books. It’s like being surrounded by friends (really really quiet friends, but still). I feel secure in knowing that I’m not in this historical writing gig alone. I’m standing on the shoulders of all those authors of all those books.

If I fall (in my knowledge of a given subject) their words will catch me like a well woven net.

That’s all I wanted to say today (yes, in pixel format!). To sum it up: I like words in books better than words on line.  

What about you? Does it make a difference when you’re researching something? Would you rather have the physical book to thumb backwards and forwards through, or even (gasp) highlight and scrawl notes in the margins? Or does having it all tidied away neat and out of sight appeal?

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