Curtis White "The Late Word" (Laphams Quarterly - as Arts & Letters Daily summarizes: "Take a clear-eyed look at the book biz. Only two major players, Amazon and Google, are still standing. Everyone else is looking for the best way to go bankrupt..."):
Even allowing for the possibility that Amazon will be a benign monopoly and will encourage or at least tolerate the continued unruly flowering of this thing we have known as literature, if you thought it was hard to find a book spine out at a superstore, try finding that book of poetry that changes your life and that you didn’t know you were looking for in the web’s ether, “in the cloud,” as the techno-hip say. You’d have better luck finding a speck of gold in a bucket of sand.Now, through word of mouth and blog site recommendations, some will find that book of poetry, although those folk will be, I suspect, mostly poets themselves... But the population of people interested in finding that transforming book will become ever smaller. Literature requires a culture, a book culture, and the ebook and the web, for all of their wizardry, will forever be solipsistic.
Might it actually be more effective, in terms of both word count and book sales, to defy our current craving for ‘transparency’? Writers that are reclusive, anti-social or simply unwilling to play the personal branding game do intrigue us; especially when, like J.D. Salinger, John Fowles or Cormac McCarthy, their reticence chimes so well with the spirit of their books. Perhaps the idea that the true artist prefers the ivory tower still carries cultural currency. Perhaps knowing that our favourite author loves Katy Perry makes us suspect their depth of insight into the human condition. Or perhaps the lone wolves are simply cool.
Jeri's Organising & Decluttering News ("It's OK to give up on a book") would like us to give up on "bad books", whether they be bad because the font is awful or bad because, for instance, someone's lent it to you because they know you read books and you'll LOVE this one...
"Will the E-Book kill the Footnote?" by Alexandra Horowitz (New York Times 7/10/11) contains my favourite quotation of the week:
Noël Coward reputedly said that “having to read a footnote resembles having to go downstairs to answer the door while in the midst of making love.”