The Disappearing Book

Over at Slate, Jack Shafer is marking the decline in importance of books - both in the shrinking newspaper coverage and in the value of the printed object.

Shafer remembers the glory days when the New York Times Book Review “could hit 80 pages in the 1970s” but now numbers only 28 pages. While he takes some heart from the recent announcement from Rupert Murdoch that the Wall Street Journal is about to launch a new book section, he believes it is about an ongoing battle the paper is having with the New York Times. He consludes “The section isn’t good news for books. It’s bad news for Murdoch.”

What makes Shafer saddest about books is the way the “modern market has stripped them of much of their romantic charm”. He believes his library will eventually move to a Kindle or iPad, but he’ll miss the “The ancient ceremony of reading by turning its pages being disrupted by the e-book’s clicks and swipes. In the process it distances us from the old magic conjured by books.”

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