Monday, August 20, 2012


Interior of Colin Page Books, Brighton, UK

“'It’s the smell, I’ll miss.'
     'It’s the texture of the page, for me.'
     'It’s that reassuring weight they’ll never replace.'
     In the ongoing debates about the rise of the ebook, you generally don’t have to wait long until someone invokes the physical attributes of mouldering bookshelves as the missing ingredient from electronic texts. Yet you don’t have to make a fetish of physicality to notice that there are several ways in which the business of owning and reading an electronic book remains inferior to doing the same with a paper copy. And, ironically enough, the most significant of these involves something at which digital media allegedly excel: sharing. [...]
     If this sounds slightly utopian, well, that’s because it is. It shouldn’t stretch credibility too far, though, to note that belief in the very notion of 'books' enduring as a 21st Century form requires more than gathering together a certain number of words. If they are to maintain vigour and impact within the brutally Darwinian internet world, both textual aspirations of permanence and a corresponding density of cultural engagement are urgently required: the mutually invigorating embrace, in other words, of authors and audiences. One of the adages of digital media has long been that relationships matter more than mere purchases: between creators and consumers, but also within those communities of consumers who have an increasingly vocal impact on the creative process."
— Tom Chatfield, BBC Future

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