Sunday, June 06, 2010

Inside book review sections of newspapers

The literary editor of The Nation, John Palatella, has written a fascinating look at the demise of book review sections in newspapers, and along the way provides a nice introductory summary of the continued change in media technology, and how each change is greeted with apocalyptic visions, for and more often against the technology.

My take away is that book reading, and especially book review reading is a minority taste, and long has been. If it seemed like book review reading and book reading were more prevalent 130 years ago, in the so called Age of the Novel, it is because there were no films, and obviously no television.

If we book readers and book lovers have done anything, it is that we have gravitated to the Internet. That more and more we buy our books there is something that may be a major part of the problem facing booksellers who want to maintain or preserve their retail establishments.

Separately, but eventually related, I have not purchased nor do I really even want a Nook, Kindle or whatever electronic book holder is out there. I love the smell and feel of a book, and know it will take some time to wean me off that. It is also strange to think that 20 years from now, I will point to what I can carry as "my library" of books. My son's library of music is his iPod, and that is what will likely happen with what we used to call the printed word. To take another analogy closer to home, large law firms once prided themselves on their law libraries. They even had law librarians at some of the largest law libraries of firms. Those law libraries and law librarians simply don't exist any longer as a firm's "library" is LexisNexis and Westlaw within the Internet on the computer sitting on the desk of each lawyer at the firm.

One highly personal note: Too bad Palatella appears to be unaware of my review of book reviews that I post on a somewhat regular basis...:-) On the other hand, he'd probably see it as the drive-by writing that is not as thoughtful as a regular review.


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