There has been much debate in recent years surrounding print books vs. ebooks and what the format means for the future of publishing. In “Kindled,” a recent article that appeared last month in The New Republic, Anthony T. Grafton refutes the view of most traditional print enthusiasts that the Amazon Kindle sucks all of the timeless joy out of reading.
He seeks the help of French philosopher Jean Luc Nancy to aid him in his argument. As Grafton points out, Nancy believes that “Born thanks to an author’s feverish creative energy, texts shift endlessly in form and meaning as publishers and booksellers, critics and readers, respond to them.” So why not embrace new formats and technologies as the natural evolution of reading? It’s an unpopular view in many scholarly circles, but though print may be far from dead, there are definitely new trends developing that it would behoove all of us in the publishing industry to pay attention to (hello, iPad).
Nancy’s thoughts on reading, writing, and the future of the book can be found in his latest, On the Commerce of Thinking: Of Books and Bookstores. Nancy follows the development process of the modern book, from a writer’s inspiration to the consumer’s purchasing patterns.