Saturday 16 December 2017

Chapter and verse on the demise of the book

Books, we're constantly being told, are on the way out and yet an astonishing 140,000 new titles were published in the UK alone last year.

Alan Yentob didn't mention that fact in his Imagine film, Books: The Last Chapter? (BBC1), which focused on whether the ebook and the iPad would obliterate the paper-and-ink object that's been handled by every literate person for half a millennium.

"There will always be people who fetishise printed books and think them superior," said dismissive app publisher Theo Gray, "just as there are people who insist that the sound from LPs is better than that from CDs, but that doesn't make it so."

Yentob, though, remained wistful about the appeal of the printed book, remarking that "technology makes things that were once pleasurably different more or less the same" and scorning the term 'app' as "one of those bland little words, like 'tweet' or 'blog' or 'search', that are quietly changing our world."

Gray, though, remained unrepentant, insisting that it was "kind of annoying having to hold a book open" and swatting away Yentob's concerns with, "You'll get over it."

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