24.12.09

The future of the book

This great post on Educating Alice describes some of the trends we say in the "noughties". Some of the items? The rise of literary non-fiction and YA literature that crosses the teen/20s bounderies. I'd add the re-editing of adult non-fiction books to appeal to younger readers (eg, Chasing Lincoln's Killers). And Literary Salon celebrates independent publishers.

Another trend, one I'm less happy about, is the rise - and expansion - of extras. Books Blog brings up some great reasons Why Not. My reasons? I. Don't. Care. Yes, sure, acknowledge your inspiration - or dedicate your work to someone (best recent dedications? The Series of Unfortunate Events). But many of the worst books I've read this year have had pages of dedications (don't thank your writing program!) and author Q&A (it doesn't make me want to read more to know what inspired you). Those Book Club 'helpers"? Create a website for them. Stop cluttering up my book, stop adding pages.

But what about the e-book phenomenon? No Shelf Required has a good round-up post, including this article in the Christian Science Monitor stating that it's in our future and will change the way we read. It's obvious that the lower pricing for e-books poses a threat for the current publishing model (Seth Grodin's response is a must read). Now, I don't think that books - printed, bound books, that is - will disappear in the same way VHS has. Why? It's not just the size and the lack of color and the lack of ability to lend and all the other negatives we now have. But think about pop-up books, like those by Sabuda. Or Pat-the-Bunny. Of course, trust the French to battle back (and the photo of Sarko? Priceless.) Less expected was Sherman Alexie's outburst.

I'm also thinking about the definition of "classic". To me, "classic" isn't just about the Books You Must Read. It's also those books that really speak to the individual reader; in other words, it varies from person to person and can encompass less-than-literary works. It'll almost certainly vary from decade to decade and generation to generation. Example? The Outsiders. 'nuff said. "Classic" also means something that I'd read again and again. One problem is that classics I enjoyed, and would re-read (and, ok, I'll admit it, push on my nieces/nephews/great-nieces) are now, perhaps, unsuitable for them. Why? That pesky politically correct thing. Bah.

Notice, I'm staying away from the whole question of the future of the bookstore.

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