Recalling a disconcerting conversation in Amsterdam with Mr B and the divine Ms S about the future of books, I came across an interesting article by Nick Hornby about the future of books. B had taken the long view: given enough time and enough advances in the technology, books would inevitably go the way of the dodo, moving inexorably from mass to niche to gone in the blink of an epoch. S, on the other hand, thought this specious guff of the first order: books are among the most successful and durable of machines yet devised by humans, and their shelf-life (a telling metaphor) will extend way beyond the heat death of Apple or Amazon. I was somewhere in between: I love books — but, y’know… never say never.
Anyway, here’s an interesting perspective from Nick Hornby. He’s talking about the reasons he doesn’t see eReaders taking off anytime soon. I was taken with this point:
This is depressingly true. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get through my ever-expanding to-read lists: new novels and old classics, magazines and journals, collections of letters, diaries, even slim volumes of poetry; they all heap up unread simply because I find myself watching/listening to vod/podcasts or even just music (would you believe?). Final proof: since my headphones broke last week, I’ve caned one novel (Howard Jacobson’s Kalooki Nights) and am midway through a second (David Peace’s The Damned Utd).
How much reading has been done historically, simply because there is no television available on a bus or a train or a sun-lounger? But that’s no longer true. You could watch a whole series of the Sopranos by the pool on your iPod touch screen, if you want. Reading is going to take a hit from this.