ARE BOOKS DEAD?

This question about the future of reading arises now because of an essay by Scottish fiction writer Ewan Morrison enitlted “Are books dead and can authors survive?”

Morrison goes on to explain: “”E-books and e-publishing will mean the end of the ‘writer’ as  a profession.  He argues that every information stream that has become digitalized has inexorably slid toward free no-charge access. We’ve seen it happen with music, we’ve seen it happen with movies, and even with long-distance telephone calls.

In other words, the public now demands its media to be free.

I must admit in my own case, I read fewer and fewer books.  Instead I read upwards of half a dozen newspapers a day including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Montreal Gazette, the Globe and Mail and the Irish Times.  I read the last to keep abreast of the dreadful Catholic sex abuse crisis in Ireland.

However, I do belong to a book club.  We meet once a month in each other’s home, have a lively discussion and enjoy refreshments.  Our last book was a biography of  Pierre Trudeau.  Our next book will be a biography of Lucy Maude Montgomery.

What was the last book you read?  Are you reading anything now?

Is reading in decline?

Are books dead?

What do you think?

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8 Comments »

  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    E-books and e-publishing is not only the future but an incredible opportunity for writers…not perhaps for established writers like Morrison but for the rest of us.

    Up to now, only a few — often the elites — got published and had an opportunity to make a living from writing. Now with concepts such as Amazon’s Kindle Self-publishing anyone with a computer and internet access can upload their book to Amazon, determine how much they want to charge for it (something like a 60/40 split between the author and Amazon) and –presto! – you have instant to the world’s 2 billion internet users.

    All you need for success is a good product.

    This is a reworking of the entire writing/publishing paradigm and it is, as an innovation, right up there with the invention of the printing press.

    These are very exciting times indeed for aspiring writers but not for established elites like Morrison who are threatened by this new way of doing things…and the appearance of new competition.

    Well, tough petunias, Ewan, get used to this brave, new, wonderful world.

  2. 2
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Tony,

    I think you are onto something.

    Thanks for your interesting and optimistic comment.

  3. 3

    I think that reading books has seen better days.
    I’m not sure that this generation of texters can spell well enough to be able to read.
    Kindles are wonderful. My family will be able to save several hundreds of dollars a year and have plenty of cheap, good reading. I don’t know how that will impact the really talented authors. Certainly there will be a plethora of books on the internet. Doesn’t everyone fancy themselves an author, though?

  4. 4
    Neil McKenty Says:

    I don;t see why the ordinary person shouldn’t have a shot at writing the story of his or her life and then self-publish it. everyone is u nique.

  5. 5
    Barbara Says:

    It is part of the narcissism of this age to self-publish. To create books for local purposes — within a family or organization, let’s say — has a definite place. There are a number of websites for self-publishing. I have seen too much mediocre writing on the internet to believe there is golden literature waiting to be discovered. I am afraid, like littlepatti wrote above that this will dilute the field of literature.

    Everyone’s life is unique, but it can be told in the footprints one leaves behind more assuredly than in a self-published biography.

  6. 6

    Blogging is a good way to tell a personal story.
    Recently, I delegated a pile of cookbooks to the garage sale. That’s another”day gone by”. I’ve kept a couple of favourites, like Mme Benoit & Good Housekeeping, but when I need something, it’s faster to Google it.
    That’s a shame. Nothing better than Mom’s recipe boxes & notes!

  7. 7
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    I want to also answer Neil’s question from another perspective.

    It’s not, for me, that books are “dead”; it’s just that since the advent of the internet I don’t read as many books as I used to.

    But that doesn’t mean I’m reading LESS; indeed, if anything, I’m reading MORE. Many, many interesting things to read on the net and I can quickly satisfy my curiosity –and go off on whatever tangent I desire– in any number of ways: clicking on links provided; looking up a term on Wilipedia; googling whatever I find of interest. This almost immediate and instantaneous satisfaction of my thirst to know something in the here and now is, to my mind, nothing less than a miracle. It is a Godsend that I am eternally grateful for.

    Fifteen short years ago the alternative was to get in my car and go to the library.

    Throw in the added feature of interactivity: I GET TO PARTICIPATE! I get to respond and add to the discourse by writing my own thoughts on whatever strikes my fantasy, be it on a wensite of my own creation or on a forum.such as this (and if I’ve never told you “thank you, Neil” for making this webdite available to us I’m doing so now). This opportunity to debate and discourse from the comfort of my own home whenever the urge moves me is nothing less than revolutionary.

    Are books dead? Not quite…but the alternative is pretty darn good.

  8. 8
    bluemoosebicycle Says:

    Reblogged this on Exchange and commented:

    Tuesday writing conversation: Are Books Dead?


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