Since no clear solution is available, electronic experts recommend that users copy their materials onto CDs, but even these are of short duration. The lifespan of data recorded on a CD with a CD burner could be as little as five years. In fact, we don’t know for how long it will be possible to read a text inscribed on a 2004 CD. And while it is true that acidity and brittleness, fire and the legendary bookworms threaten ancient codexes and scrolls, not everything written or printed on parchment or paper is condemned to an early grave. A few years ago, in the Archeological Museum of Naples, I saw, held between two plates of glass, the ashes of a papyrus rescued from the ruins of Pompeii. It was two thousand years old; it had been burnt by the fires of Vesuvius, it had been buried under a flow of lava-and I could still read the letters written on it, with astonishing clarity.
The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel