Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Book Beyond the Book

That sound you hear is the wrapping being torn off of millions of Kindles and iPads. When those devices are fired up and start downloading texts, it will be the greatest shift in casual reading since the mass market paperback arrived six decades ago. Will this dislocation destroy the traditional book? Will it doom the traditional independent bookstore? Will Amazon and Apple control the distribution of thought and culture in America? All these questions will be played out imminently.

The migration to e-reading is usually reported as a one-way journey: You get a device, start downloading and never look back to the old-fashioned book. You start mocking those type-filled volumes reeking of another century. Meanwhile, the defenders of the old ways are digging in their heels. I know readers who swear never to read anything electronic, saying they find the format muddy and confusing and sad.

Dennis Loy Johnson, a former academic who is the proprietor of Melville House, a small but innovative publishing firm, wants to reconcile these warring factions. Why should electronic and traditional not collaborate?

Full piece at NYT Bits Blog

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