I’m meant to give a talk in Sydney called Perish the Thought, about the death (and/or resurrection) of the book, so I’ve been studying. Here’s a lovely eighty-year-old fragment of poetry on the subject, by one Bob Brown. It comes from his self-published book Words (1931). It’s a confident prediction of what lies ahead:
Nineteen-fifty has come and gone. Have we arrived in the reading-machine future yet?
Always fun to consult the oracle regarding the future of the book. If you have favorite prophecies, I’d love to hear them.
A book is a book, irrespective of medium. When CD’s came out, people used to make a false distinction between “albums” and “CD’s,” yet the work remains the work, and now no one objects to the phrase, “mp3 album.”
A book is a book, no matter the nook (with apologies to B&N).
If we’re comparing books to albums, let’s think about how many young people actually listen to full albums anymore. I would argue that singles dominate, with people downloading songs individually and making their own playlists, rather than listening to the album from start to finish as the artist intended. As this behaviour continues, the artists have been adapting their craft, and making more disconnected albums. I believe Radiohead’s latest offering is evidence of this.
Will the same happen to books? Will anyone read an 800 page novel anymore? Or will books increasingly look like what TED.com is now offering in the form of 40 page mini-books? http://www.ted.com/pages/567
What is a book? A film is not a book. Recorded, oral languaje, music, noises, etc are not a book. Would you say that all these media, together with text in a unified language, are still a book.
Indeed, here’s a collection of contemporary writers talking about just how dead (or otherwise) the book is:
Ooh, I love this, so glad to come across you. I just finished writing a short essay on this very subject – somehow managed to contrive a tenuous link to the Book is Dead furore and Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the debunking of the repressive hypothesis. I’m not usually that dull but I find the whole debate fascinating.
Good luck with your talk. I lived in Sydney many years ago and still cry that I’m not there sometimes.
Come back! Mitzi in Sydney…
One thing I do hope for is better books available in audio. Travel and books now go together even better.
A book contains recorded thoughts, emotios, sensations, images… And it will never die as long as people think, feel, sence…or deevolve and forget how to record thoughts, emotions…
More of a reference to Language of Absolutes re
May it last,
REMIND ME: HOW DEAD IS THE BOOK AGAIN?
If a book is not just paper and text, but text, audio and visuals, it will never die.
But it will not be called a book. So I guess there’s no point in discussing its death.