Saturday, July 12, 2014

What Can You Buy for Twenty Cent?

The Brothers Karamoz by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. At least, I did just that this morning, in a charity shop.

It seems like just another sign of the sad decline of the printed book. Even the book exchanges that are such a common sight these days, though a good thing in themselves, are really just a case of books being given away.

Peter Hitchens has just put out a book called Short Breaks in Mordor, about his travels in various dangerous and oppressed parts of the world. It is being released as an e-book because publishers didn't think it would sell as a printed book. That's depressing, considering Mr. Hitchens's prominence.

People who fret about Kindle and e-readers are generally dismissed as alarmists, and reminded that people worried about TV killing off both the radio and the cinema, neither of which came to pass. But why should we assume that two similar cases should produce the same outcome? And they are never exactly the same.

E-books won't kill the printed book. But then, human beings haven't killed off the tiger. Not quite.


  1. I actually find it quite difficult to read on a screen writing that I want to savour, like literature, or literary criticism, or newspaper columns of even medium length. I know that Kindles are supposed to imitate a printed page quite well, but I can't ever imagine buying one. (Though even as I write that I can't quite believe I will escape e-readers for ever).

    Someone has suggested that video is going to be the main medium of the future. I hope not, for all sorts of reasons - Too many to inflict on your blog, I think.

    And then there are articles like this about the unforeseen results of the wholesale plunge, even in libraries, into the digital age...

  2. Tell me about it! I'm witnessing, first-hand, the phenomenon of books being stowed away to store-rooms and archives because they're old and fragile, or because they're seldom borrowed, and in order for the library 'space' to used for more sexy projects like group study rooms. It's probably unfair to say that, for your average librarian, the only good book is an e-book. But it's not too far from the truth.