Sunday, March 13, 2011

Adaption: What Happens When All the Book-Books Are Gone

As Read an E-Book Week ends, journalist, columnist and editor Mireille Silcoff ponders the question: “What happens to lovers of ink when the e-book takes over for good?” From the National Post:
Every week, I read The New York Times Book Review and ever since they instituted those little grey-on-grey pie charts showing what percentage of bestsellers were bought as books and what percentage as e-books, I feel a drop in my belly which I interpret as my body’s physical reaction to the sight of the happy-tinted world as I know and love it being swallowed up by more darkly shaded forces that I do not welcome.
Silcoff’s vision gets not cheerier and is tainted by the fact that, for her, this is a road that’s been traveled before:
I think my issue in adaption is that I can’t get easily over what’s been forfeited. Take music. I was a pop-music journalist in the era when recorded sound still came in material form. I had hundreds of records and thousands of CDs and mixes from DJs that were like diamond-encrusted gold to me. I had friends who worked in places like record stores and at distributors and friends who did the things that serviced the stores and the distributors, and now all of that is gone. The consolation of convenience doesn’t, in my mind, in any way make up for the loss of a subculture, or an industry, not to mention many of my best and hottest years.
Silcoff’s piece is part personal lament, part cultural query and -- whether or not you agree with her ideas, this is writing worth reading, and it’s here.



Blogger Aronald said...

I too loved the music industry and how it was made up and my dream of finding an agent and then being published and going on book tour still sounds tantalizing. What those two ideas have in common is that they don't make sense. The music industry pilfered the public for years. Same with books. Remember when a CD would cost $17.99 and you only liked half the album. A hard cover book for $27.99? No subculture can afford that.

Monday, March 14, 2011 at 12:16:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Emily said...

I agree that nothing compares to putting on a record of Billi Holiday or picking up a dog eared Douglas Adams. However, when CD's were making so much money for the popular music industry, simon cowls little minions were topping the charts. What downloading did was put live music format and 'real musicians' in top positions again. Nothing wrong with little girls and boys growing up listing to Elbow rather than Boyzone if you ask me. I think the same will happen in e-books. I personally was given a reader for a christmas present and subsequently downloaded the entire works of Shkespear, Dickens, Elliot, Zola, Homar etc etc for free. The point being that i was instantly given access to particularly great and grand works of art. Although i think that nothing compares to a tactile eperience of a book, i listen to spoken books and radio plays so why not this format? I think the fear that j-pegs will erase the permanance of the written word is simply like thinking that photography might take over from painting when we know from epereince that it doesn't (or didn't) it just exapanded the imgination for creativity. People still listen to old records, still go to see exhibitions of painting, and will still read books. The limitlessness of e-books will perhaps see a rise in people picking up old clssics or guerrilla publishers new exciting artists, it may just shake the world of publishing out of its old pyjama's and finally Jordon will stop topping best sellers lists?

Monday, March 14, 2011 at 1:44:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Wolfgang said...

Mmmm... Photography actually took over painting, at least as a way to represent the physical world. Figurative art falling out of fashion has a lot to do with the rise of photography and, later, moving pictures. Also, people still listen to old records... on their Ipod. Only the collectors stick to their vinyles, tapes and CDs.
Electronic "books" are a revolution I'll deal with as I've dealt with previous such revolutions: resisting it as much and as long as I can, and surrendering only when I'm out of weapons. I'm a book-lover, not a text-lover; the touch of paper is necessary to my enjoyment.

Monday, March 14, 2011 at 8:54:00 AM PDT  

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