In the news: It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

It’s been a while since I’ve done an In the news post, so here we are! I know I got a bit silly with the title, but the theme this time around is that pervasive, foreboding sense—or myth—that things in the book world are on the decline.

From The Christian Science Monitor

Think that reading is going the way of the dodo, and that electronic spells doom for us all? Think again. According to a new consumer study, Generation Y are now the most prolific readers, having just overtaken the baby boomers—who, of course, have a larger population size. Take that, stereotypes. (The Onion lover and curmudgeon in me wishes to note that whether there is any hope yet for the younger generation remains to be seen.)

From The Wall Street Journal

On a related note, have faith that print will yet survive. A number of young social-media fans are embracing paper—even letterpress. Renowned paper company Mohawk has gotten in on the game, as well (cf. Felt & Wire). In short: perhaps we should all cease panicking about the end of culture and just enjoy the ride, yes?

From The New York Review of Books

Practical issues aside, do we lose something when we engage with a text in electronic versus print format? Tim Parks takes a look at what it means to have a “literary experience” and argues that e-books might bring us closer to, not rather from, a true one.

From Dezeen

This one I just couldn’t resist—it’s a modern take on the paper arts that’s both fascinating and whimsical. Can’t handle folding origami yourself? Perhaps you should get a printer that can do it for you. (Video included.)

From Brain Pickings

This is brief, and not something I’d usually feature in this kind of post, but Carl Sagan is (was) one of my true heros. It’s only fitting that he should have something wonderful to say about books. Read this, and tell me that you really think that, as a society, we’re going to let the magic of books—the question of form aside—slip through our fingers.

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What’s your verdict? Do you think that the end of books is inevitable? What about the end of print? Or are we all perhaps getting a bit ahead of ourselves, holding onto what we know and love instead of exploring the possibilities of the future? Personally, I think that there’s plenty of room for print and electronic to coexist, assuming that publishers can learn from other industries and adapt; I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’re interested in reading more about this topic, I highly suggest Robert Darnton’s A Case For Books. It’s a few years old at this point, and the landscape is ever-changing, but it remains a thoroughly enjoyable read about the future of the book world.

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