“The internet has killed reference books.”


InternetDoesntLieIn a recent post on the blog Brutal as Hell, there was a book review for an ebook called Modern Horrors: An A to Z of Horror Movie Reviews 2000-2015 by Scott Weinberg, and that above quote was the opening line. You can see the post HERE. This isn’t meant as a slam towards the author, the site, or the book they’re reviewing. I enjoy BaH’s site and go there often. This really isn’t anything to do with the book review itself, but really just the author’s first paragraph. Right after making the statement about the internet has killed reference books, he justifies that statement by saying that you can get whatever information from the internet, so basically why the need for a book, saying “if you need more detailed information then you might just turn to Wikipedia.”

Let me start at end first, just to be different. If you’re turning to Wikipedia for information, the place where anybody can post ‘facts’ about a subject without any fact checking being done, then you are in trouble right from the start. There is a reason there is so much miss-information out there in the world today…the internet. Just like it says on that TV commercial, just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s the truth. There is a reason why publishers have fact checkers, editors, and other people that go through what they are going to publish and make sure it is correct. Now, not to say that errors are still not made in print. There are. Trust me. I know this because I find a few of them occasionally in the books that I read. But comparatively, I would trust a book any day of the week over the internet. Any idiot with a computer can post anything they want on the internet, but it doesn’t mean it is fact. I know this as well, since I’ve been doing that with my website since 1998.

Euro GothicBut what really puzzled me was the very first sentence, that reference books are dying. If that is the case, then why do I have close to fifty horror reference book titles in my Amazon Wish List? For someone that has over eight hundred horror reference books in their collection, if anything, I see this medium increasing over the last few years. There are titles coming out almost monthly that I’m wanting to add to my collection. Maybe it could be just because I’m looking for them, but they are definitely there, and their numbers are increasing. I would hope that more of us out there are taking to actual books for their information than the web, especially if it something that we really want to learn and care about.

Then again, maybe this is just me showing more signs of the Grumpy Old Man Syndrome that I’ve been coming down with since I turned fifty.

2 thoughts on ““The internet has killed reference books.”

  1. “The internet has killed reference books.” There is one way in which this is true: the Internet has created the ability to make e-books, which allows for “reference” books to get published by idiots.

    I do take exception to your Wikipedia-bashing, however. Your concerns may have been true 10 years ago, but they are not true today. Not anybody can post. You have to be registered, and if you post false information, you get banned. Further, all statements must be linked to a source, often a physical reference book. There have been a few studies on Wikipedia’s reliability, and the site wins every time — there are actually more errors in the Encyclopedia Britannica than on Wikipedia, because Wikipedia is better sourced.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong. I, too, have several reference books in my wish list. But it’s just as likely the books have errors as the Internet. Heck, just think about the endless amount of BS David Skal has pulled out of his ass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess that shows how long ago I would attempt to go to Wikipedia. But in general, I would still trust a book over a webpage.

      And I’m not counting opinions, such as Mr. Skal, since we know there is no right and wrong for that kind of writing. Even though we may not agree with it.


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