Screens vs. Books: the Book Always Wins, Professor Says

Is book culture old-fashioned in a society that’s overrun by screens?

Michael Kuczynski, a professor of English in Tulane’s School of Liberal Arts, says no. “Books provide us with a window on the global history of learning, and you can’t get that from a computer,” he said.

“A lot of so-called modern concepts in education that we think we’ve invented, like design thinking and social entrepreneurship, are in fact aspects of the history of manuscript and early print culture,” he said. 

In May, Kuczynski was inducted into the Grolier Club, an international society of bibliophiles and scholars.
He is the first Tulane faculty member to join the prestigious society and was nominated by a fellow member, Stuart Rose, a Tulane parent and book collector.
“It’s a great honor not just for me individually but for Tulane as an institution,” Kuczynski said. “It’s a very eclectic group of people.”

The club is based in New York City but has 800 international members: people who buy and sell books, librarians, academics and other book lovers.

The club was founded in 1884 “to foster the study, collecting, and appreciation of books and works on paper, their art, history, production and commerce.” The club takes its name from Jean Grolier, a 16th-century French book collector and patron of an Italian press.
The Grolier Club network, exhibit space and reference library will benefit Kuczynski’s research as a medievalist. He said that he looks forward to “promoting some of our campus book history resources, such as holdings at Howard-Tilton and Amistad Research Center.”
Kuczynski is confident that books will remain part of the educational environment and that book history will continue to be an important field of study.