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Happy World Book Day, dummy!

Coinciding with World Book Day, celebrated yesterday in the U.K., Faber and Faber publisher Steven Page added his voice to the chorus of supporters of new technology, in an op-ed piece in The Guardian. But unlike most Web 2.0 evangelicals, Page brings to the debate the ornery tone of an old-school pedant and snob, arguing in his somewhat muddled rant “ in which he deftly drops a pitch for Faber’s new line of print-on-demand titles “ that the digital future is a chance for serious, thoughtful writers to reclaim the publishing landscape from grubby Joe Public “ with his incorrigible taste for celebrity gossip and “misery memoirs.”

“Technology, often feared by the bookish world, is a growing friend,” writes Page.

Global communities are gathering around common interests online, just as intellectuals gathered in cafes in 1900s Vienna. They are gloriously beyond corporate control and naturally antipathetic to the reductive mass market. We are only at the beginning of this social revolution. I am not an advocate of the life led online, but as broadband reaches all generations, genders and income brackets, so this will develop usefully…. Literature can thrive in these places.

And while Page’s overall perspective is fairly astute, it does read as though he is still somewhat flabbergasted by this newfangled Internet thingy: “We must provide content that can be searched and browsed, and create extra materials “ interviews, podcasts and the like.”

Seems like a weak cocktail for reviving High Art.