Monday, May 22, 2006

The Literati v Technorati at BookExpo

"The clash is between what you might call the technorati and the literati. The technorati are thrilled at the way computers and the Internet are revolutionizing the world of books. The literati fear that, amid the revolutionary fervor, crucial institutions and core values will be guillotined.

No wonder they applauded long and loud when a champion stepped forth."
The champion used
Explosive Words.

BookExpo took an interesting turn when
John Updike, Pulitzer Prize winner for Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest, took his position at the lectern Saturday morning. Mr Updike, instead of self-promoting, decided to champion independent booksellers and indie bookstores by reminiscing on bookstores of his youth. Updike is the second author to publically praise independent booksellers this year. Updike then turned his attention to attack the themes of Kevin Kelly's NYT article. (If you have the time, read the full five page article at the Washington Post- which is why three links are used for emphasis.) (CSPAN2) aired BookExpo live over the weekend. Unfortunately, there is no archive of the program to view via a media player, but you can subscribe to the upcoming BEA podcasts which will be available starting this week. Dunno about you, but I am anxious to hear the John Updike podcast.

Much attention has been paid to the digitization of books in the last few years with Google's plans to scan books in research libraries, booksellers selling print-on-demand texts of out-of-print books, and Amazon's recent plans to sell individual pages digitally as well as print-on-demand books. Updike's address at BEA only further highlights the issues to booklovers and booksellers from an author's point of view.

Is it possible that the future holds a nearly bookless society where only those with f-you money can afford an actual bound book? Will private presses be the bastion of traditionally printed, high quality works with a requisite high price attached? What will become of booksellers if written works become freely and digitally available? Does it matter? (Can you say "adapt
or die?") Will there one day be a museum where people line up to see an exhibit of Danielle Steele's or John Grisham's books- or other books that "bookmen" now think of as too numerously published and virtually worthless? Will the digitization of printed works be the cause célèbre of near future environmentalists? Only time will tell how this ultimately plays out, but if the lack of wide acceptance and use of e-books in the publishing industry are any indication, perhaps a book will remain a book.

If you wish to read John Updike's newest novel Terrorist, one of his Pullitzer award winning books, or any of his other well-crafted
works, you will find his books at independent booksellers stores everywhere, or by searching by title and/or author at Bookfinder or ADDALL

1 comment:

Cameron J. said...

Stumbled across your blog and it piqued my interest. I work for a university press and I can tell you that there are enough crotchety members of the old guard left that remain skeptical of the explosion in e-formats.
I'm of the opinion that the tangible pleasure and lack of eye strain a bound book represents will never be a rarity.