Sunday, 22 January 2012
Three people this week have drawn my attention to the future of the book, two of them predicting - or observing - the imminent demise of reading on paper (newspapers, books). One was an old friend, in an email more or less as a throwaway. The second was a more public figure, Tyler Brule, in his column in today's Financial Times. Screened out and isolated deplores the absence of anyone reading a newspaper in a coffee shop he was in in Venice Beach, California. Everyone was crouched over their MacBook Air. Also, Brule deplored the lack of any local bookshop (other than a specialist spiritual one), kiosk or used book seller in the neighbourhood. The significance of the newspaper is that it bestows - rightly or wrongly - an identity on the reader. I was summonsed recently to jury service, and my doctor observed wryly that the quickest way of getting myself discharged would be to walk into court carrying a copy of the Daily Telegraph (as it happens, this extreme measure was unnecessary, my precarious health and distant address were sufficient). The third person to remark on the future of the book to me this week was my sister, who is working on a family history. I suggested that a website would be the most appropriate medium for this, for reasons of convenience and accessibility, whereupon she replied that she likes books and that she will see to it that the history will appear in a book, website or no website.