Tuesday, December 05, 2006

BOOKS: Hot for Books

Why have I not known about the if:book blog until today? I can handle the fact that I haven't heard of many of the titles on all the year-end "best of" lists that are coming out right now -- I'm busy, I'm too cheap to buy new releases, whatever. But overlooking this website, well, that's just plain sloppy.

if:book is to publishing as We Make Money Not Art is to, uh, art. It examines the intersection between books and technology, exploring the future of books: how they're published, how they're distributed, how they're read. Recent posts cover things such as the new open-source e-book reader dotReader, the book search interface of Google's book viewer, and defining a concept I've never heard of before: the networked book. Each of these ideas is post-worthy on its own, but today I want to draw your attention to a set of essays on
Forbes.com -- all centred around the idea of the future of the book -- that if:book recently linked to.

Forbes' introduction to the essays:
Are books in danger?

The conventional wisdom would say yes. After all, more and more media--the Internet, cable television, satellite radio, videogames--compete for our time. And the Web in particular, with its emphasis on textual snippets, skimming and collaborative creation, seems ill-suited to nurture the sustained, authoritative transmission of complex ideas that has been the historical purview of the printed page.

But surprise--the conventional wisdom is wrong. Our special report on books and the future of publishing is brim-full of reasons to be optimistic. People are reading more, not less. The Internet is fueling literacy. Giving books away online increases off-line readership. New forms of expression--wikis, networked books--are blossoming in a digital hothouse.

People still burn books. But that only means that books are still dangerous enough to destroy. And if people want to destroy them, they are valuable enough that they will endure.

If that doesn't get you hot for books, I don't know what can. W.B. Yeats reading "The Second Coming"? W.B. Yeats reading "The Second Coming" while wearing a Speedo? Tell me. Help me help you.

Among other things, this collection contains essays about how McSweeney's founder Dave Eggers built his "multimedia publishing empire" without any advertising, about why boingboing editor Cory Doctorow lets people download his books for free, and about how people are earning thousands of dollars simply by reviewing books on Amazon. (Er, hi! Where do I sign up?)

There's a LOT to dig into here. You'll know where to find me for the rest of the day. Send for my things.


Anonymous said...

So how did you happen across the if:book blog?

Tammy said...

That's the funny thing: I can't remember. All I know is that I was killing time trolling around on my computer and there it was. And thus a shout-out was lost in the sands of time. Or the fog of memory. Or something like that.