Monday, January 09, 2012

Print vs. Electronic: Enter the Golden Age

Not long ago we were arguing for or against reading electronically. In an interesting piece for the Guardian, writer and editor Robert McCrum points out that the battle now is complete and, in some ways, there are no winners or losers: just a redistribution of priority.
If the ebook is all about ease, and short attention spans, the ink and paper book must satisfy not just the thrill of reading, but the deep aesthetic pleasure associated with owning, holding and even scenting a favourite text. Already, there are signs that some publishers have cottoned on to this.
These aren’t new thoughts. In fact, just last month we reported on the idea that one of the things the e-book revolution would give us back is the beautiful book. But McCrum -- being McCrum -- takes things a bit further:
From the outside, the book trade looks staid, static and conservative, but inside the publishing jungle there's a life-and-death struggle between E and P. This competition has begun to sponsor a literary bonanza. If ever there was a golden age of reading, this is it.

The e-publisher's riposte to beautiful books has time and technology on its side. This is also the age of the book app. 2011 was a milestone year in lots of ways (Arab spring, death of Bin Laden, English cricket revival), but never more so than with Faber's launch of TS Eliot's The Waste Land as a book app.

Even the most devout print-conscious bibliophile could hardly fail to be impressed by the possibilities of reading, and listening to, this great poem in many different formats, including two recordings by the poet himself. Agreed: this treatment works especially well with a long poem, but Jamie Oliver also understands, and is profiting from, the market for the book app.
You can read the full piece here. And if you love the image above, you can see more (and more and more!) on the microblog walls & walls of books here.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Esri Rose said...

"If the ebook is all about ease, and short attention spans..."

How are ebooks more geared to short attention spans than regular books?

Monday, January 9, 2012 at 1:46:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the ebook is all about ease, and short attention spans..."

How are ebooks more geared to short attention spans than regular books?

Monday, January 9, 2012 at 1:47:00 PM PST  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Good point, actually. It's one of those things that are said, is it not? And you're right: it's still reading, after all.

Monday, January 9, 2012 at 4:07:00 PM PST  

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