Despite Google’s “colonization of e-books,” the advent of the Kindle Reader, and today’s publication of The Lost Symbol, Harvard University’s library director, Robert Darnton, argues in Publisher’s Weekly that the book is not dead, nor shall it ever be.
As a way of promoting his new book, The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future, to be published by Public Affairs in October, Darnton counters the Nietzschean proclamation of the book’s impending death with the prediction that “one million new books will soon be produced each year.” He further argues:
… the general lack of concern for history among Americans has made us vulnerable to exaggerated notions of historic change–and so has our fascination with technology. The current obsession with cellular devices, electronic readers and digitization has produced a colossal case of false consciousness.
As new electronic devices arrive on the market, we think we have been precipitated into a new era. We tout the Information Age as if information did not exist in the past. Meanwhile, e-books and devices like the Kindle represent less than 1% of the expenditure on books in the United States.
Take courage, old-fashioned book lovers. The end of the printed word may be farther away than previously predicted.