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Physical text compression

Too many books? Make them smaller
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I have accumulated a large number of books in the past two or three centuries, including a rather useful copy of the Book Of Abrelim The Mage. Anyway, as time goes by, the volume of volumes grows while that of our dwelling remains similar. A sufficiently high value to the cosmological constant might remedy this issue, but so far, no dice. I suspect this matter is a common concern.

Therefore, methinks there's a gap in the market for a service which takes one's tomes and renders them into more compact forms, though appropriate for the vintage of the works themselves, thus: the oldest books are copied by scribes into forms using Black Letter and mediaeval palaeographical abbreviations, those of greater intermediate age into Elizabethan handwriting form (which is, incidentally, my own handwriting), those of lesser intermediate age are similarly transcribed into Pitman Script (shorthand is useless for this as it's double-spaced and in any case quite expansive compared to ordinary text) and the newest into printed txt spk. Then, the margins and font size of printed books are somewhat reduced and related volumes are bound together (e.g. Encyclopaedia Britannica has, say, a dozen books rather than more than two dozen) and the paper and ink of the originals are recycled into the paper and ink comprising the new versions, but on thin, Bible-type paper. Maybe also make each page slightly taller or wider, customised for the shape and size of the bookshelves. Photographic reduction a la microfiche, only not so small, more like the reduced version of the OED which comes with a magnifying glass, is also available for works of the appropriate era. Even microfiche itself might be apt for books of the mid-twentieth century when that was seen as the wave of the future.

Your library is then returned to you in a smaller physical form, perhaps with the option of a number of blank notebooks and inkhorns made from the ink and paper saved, though clearly this would be problematic from the space-saving perspective, thereby freeing up one's shelves for further codical influx.

nineteenthly, May 14 2013

70% shorter than English http://blog.easylin...t-apt-for-tweeting/
Tweet war and peace [4and20, May 14 2013]

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       Hmm, they all get taken away, photographed, reduced in text size and then printed on wall-paper, which you then velcro on the wall. When wishing to read them just use a magnifying glass, or something a little more hi-tech.   

       Put that book you consistently over re-read behind the wardrobe and in 10 years, when you finally get around to moving the wardrobe, it's more fresh, as you've forgotten a lot of it.   

       The velcro is for when you inadvertently put the wallpaper up in the wrong order/way up.
not_morrison_rm, May 14 2013
  

       I'm sure your abode is duly enshelved, but I'd forgo taking any drastic courses of action until such time as not a wall rests unadorned, nor a niche laid bare! Narry a nook, nor cranny need remain unburdened and consider, the warmth and heat conserving effects of cladding your home entirely from the inside with the thick insulating properties of pressed cellulose fibre!   

       But that doesn't help, nor address the idea as posted - to whit, how about considering the LZ77 algorithm and writing two new enormous books, the first of which contains common excerpts and phrases picked from your entire library, and another that references these excerpts in sequence in a way that allows you to recombine those excerpts into a meaningful sequence representative of the original. Once these two books are complete, you can safely discard your collection, safe in the knowledge that it is losslessly compressed in your excerpt/lookup archive.
zen_tom, May 14 2013
  

       There is a fundamental problem that needs to be kept in mind before attempting something like this. In general, "writing" has for centuries been a compact way to store information: the average novel (or other text-containing book of similar page-length) holds about a megabyte. Books are also random-access and directly human-accessible.   

       Most other data-storage forms are NOT. You need special tools to access the data. So, if the special tool breaks (like, say a computer hard-disk drive) -- even a magnifying glass is susceptible to this-- how do you access the data?   

       So, what we really need is a way to compress data that stays directly human-accessible. Solve that problem (shorthand is ONE possibility, but only if nothing is lost in translation), and THEN it would be a good time to see about compressing the world's books.
Vernon, May 14 2013
  

       Several sites list Chinese as the most compact modern language.   

       If you've ever seen a cuneiform tablet, sorry, don't know what language, it's terribly dense, tiny and lasted 22 centuries, just when people read it without a key.
4and20, May 14 2013
  

       Well, Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform are probably very compact but Hittite and Persian not so much. Can't remember anything about other varieties.
nineteenthly, May 14 2013
  

       You could dig a deep shaft and lower the books into it. That way you free up shelf space in the house, and the books, being further away, look smaller as well.
pocmloc, May 18 2013
  

       My concern is that books be the same height (and preferably the same depth), seeing as they end up on close-spaced shelves on the wall adding to house insulation.
FlyingToaster, May 18 2013
  

       Regarding the magnifying glass problem, a drop of water can be used at a pinch. I always think of that early microscope with the single (or double?) lens. However, there is indeed a problem with breakable hardware.
nineteenthly, May 19 2013
  
      
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