Friday, March 11, 2011

The (Literary) Times They Are A-Changin'

Anyone who even casually skims litblogs is aware of the growing tide of hysteria over e-readers and the decline of books in contemporary America.  (One example is C. Max Magee, editor of one of my favorite literary blogs, The Millions, has co-edited a collection of essays entitled The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books.

I've written about this subject myself here (and here), and I've come to realize I must be one of the few readers in the world who isn't terrified that we're all going to hell in a handbasket. 

I know this may come as a surprise to some people, but there was a time not so long ago (geologically speaking) that most people didn't have access to books.  The printing press wasn't invented until the 15th century and yet mankind managed to muddle through the Dark Ages and come out of the Renaissance relatively better for it.  Novels weren't popularized until the 19th century, largely a product of their time as the middle class grew and women began to enter the intellectual scene.  The world is always changing, and to try to deny that evolution is not only naive, it's reactionary and incredibly conservative.

Not all change is a bad thing--and to be perfectly honest, I'm not all that thrilled with the current state of the publishing industry, anyway.  If you ask me, the people who have brought us such literary gems as The Da Vinci Code and Twilight could probably stand to be a little shaken up.  I'm looking forward to it.

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