Scripture’s multivalent portraits of the eschatological shake down (i.e. new creation) make it difficult to describe with any certainty what the “new heavens and the new earth” will look like. Some things we know with a degree of confidence—death’s death, the final knell for sin, and something like immortality—but Scripture seems silent, even uninterested, on the destiny of the more common material items, particularly books (books as we know them now weren’t available so the question is unfortunately anachronistic from the outset). In fact, the idea that books will be absent (as I stare at my handsome and dusty book-filled shelves) from God’s new world, at least for the book lover, seems to cast a dark ominous shadow upon the glorious future reign of King Jesus. Will my thoughts and heart dwell forever with my former books while I adore him night and day into eternity?
Now, I think the general assumption on this all-important-question is, no. And this typically comes, at least from my point of view, from several theological errors. The first error draws from the overly-reverent types who make the mistake of assuming that because we’ll finally see God “face to face” that nothing else will absolutely matter, not even books or loved ones or anything else for that matter. However, this means that God’s unfathomable presence would be, to coin a word, de-creationizing. But in one very already supreme sense we—humanity—have already seen God face to face; that is when he was present among us in the human being Jesus and the last response we see when people encountered him (often a doxology or horror or sheer enmity) was that “nothing else mattered”; no, when encountering God in Christ just the opposite happened, everything mattered and in the light of his presence became all the more significant. “What’s the price of a pet canary?” Jesus says, “Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do.”
The second is harder to deal with. It takes the apocalyptic imagery in the NT as concrete/picturesque. Take, for example, this passage in 2 Peter, “But when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment” (3:10, The Message). But this type of discourse in the Scripture tends to use fire in a purifying sense, not in an actual literal heat/fire-type one. One commentator is close to home when he writes:
The picture is indeed that of stripping off everything that stands between the eye of God and the earth. When the sky and the heavenly bodies are gone, “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” And that is the goal: to expose all that has gone on and is going on the earth so that all those things that human beings thought that they were getting away with or thought that that God did not see are suddenly exposed to his unblinking eye. Probably our author believes that this process will do damage to the earth and its structures, but the point is the uncovering and exposing and thus the purifying of the earth. This uncovering is similar to the point of the flood, namely, to destroy human evil; in the process of doing that many animals and plants were also destroyed. In this case what is destroyed is the heavens, and perhaps with them spiritual forces that are influencing evil on earth. Yet 2 Peter does not dwell on the spiritual forces, assuming that he believes in them, but rather on the stripping away of the protective covering from earth.
Damage is possible, but the emphasis is clearly on purification and exposure. But damage and literal conflagration become even less plausible once we begin to consider other “end-time” passages. Take for example, this seemingly throwaway line at the end of 1 Corinthians 15, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (15:58, NRSV). Now certainly, St. Paul has Christian effort and work in the present in view, but this can only be true if there is some concrete continuity between this age and the next to begin with. Things we do now matter, because a degree of preservation is going to occur into the future world. And even though I do not have the space to go into it now, Romans chapter-eight suggests the same thing. N.T. Wright adds:
How God will take our prayer, our art, our love, our writing, our political action, our music, our honesty, our daily work, our pastoral care, our teaching, our whole selves—how God will take this and weave its varied strands into the glorious tapestry of his new creation, we can at present have no idea. That he will do so is part of the truth of the resurrection, and perhaps one of the most comforting parts of all.
In fact, the whole notion that no material items present now will be present in the new creation may have a lot more to do with residual influence of Greek dualism that depreciates the world of space-time for some future world of non-material existence. But this is far from the God of NT whose deep love for the fallen and broken world leads him to join up with it in the flesh and blood of Jesus so that he can heal and redeem it forever. Not to mention the big unmistakable fact that this God chose to record it all in what is unarguably the greatest book of all time, the Bible. God is irrefutably the biggest book lover in the universe and beyond!
This is not a Hitlerian book burning god, this is the God of healing, redemption, and yes testing and refinement—not to mention of quality wine and bountiful food and of warm conversation. The future of the world’s libraries (mine included!), then, looks a lot differently (when this creation loving theology is appreciated) than what is generally assumed. In fact, it is plausible that all the great truths in every book, from Virgil’s Aeneid to Augustine’s Confessions, across the ages will be redeemed and restored to their proper appropriation within the understanding that the grand reality shall at last afford; and that every error, whether in Lewis’s Mere Christianity or in Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion, will be exposed and dissolved in the purifying fires of God’s eschatological presence.
Thus, in words borrowed from the Reformer Martin Luther, “Be thou comforted, mine book, thou too in the Resurrection shall have a polished golden cover.”
 Matthew 10:29, The Message.
 Peter H. Davids, The letters of 2 Peter and Jude, in The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007), pgg. 286-287.
 N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), pg. 228.