This page is powered by the Textpattern content management system.
We’ve been here before
Kathryn Hughes writes in the Guardian on paradigm shifts in book publishing:
In his Booker speech, Barnes suggested that the reason the book’s material presence matters so much right now is because of the challenge of e-readers, which tend to make all novels look alike. After three or four false starts, 2011 turned out to be the much-anticipated tipping point, when the Kindle, Sony reader and iPad no longer attracted suspicious stares when spotted out in public. By May this year both Amazon and Waterstones were reporting that ebooks now easily outsell hardbacks in the UK.
It may feel like Armageddon, but in fact we have been here before. In the mid-19th century, the shift from making paper out of expensive cloth to cheaper wood pulp unleashed a new era of mass-market publishing. Driven by growing literacy rates among the working class, the result was a flood of cheap identikit books, all flimsy paper and cardboard covers. The chattering classes looked on horrified, convinced that Literature – and the publishers and writers who depended on it for their livelihood – was doomed to extinction.