The more we fear that printed books are dying, the more we revere them in the abstract. I’ve already noted the imaginary books that carry the weight of gospel in movies like American Pie and TV shows like How I Met Your Mother. Now the University of Chicago has found a real package addressed to the fictional Indiana Jones. It contains a book, of course—a facsimile of a fictional notebook written by Professor Abner Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The book itself is a ruse, a collection of scraps and scribblings designed to make the movie feel authentic. But no one can deny that it’s physically real. That’s why it’s so exciting.
It was easy to believe in Abner Ravenwood’s notebook on the big screen, where it was part of a rich tradition of movies in which an imaginary book holds the key to everything. But at a time when print is said to be dying, everyone is pleasantly shocked by the thought of this book as a physical object.
- Brian Hurley