What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

24 October 2011

Texas Book Festival: The Late American Novel

I chose this particular lecture because my Creative Writing teacher was one of the speakers. And I'm so glad that I did, because it turned out to be an informative and thought-provoking session. Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee compiled 25 short essays about the future of books, basically getting the spectrum of people who have a good grasp (or so it seems) on the future of books right across to my creative writing instructor, who readily admitted in class on Friday and at the festival on Saturday that she has no idea what is coming next.

This picture is the artist's attempt to
build an e-reader from stuff laying
around his house. Source.
Mr. Martin began with the story of the lectors in the cigar factories in Tampa (I think?) during the '20s and '30s, who would read to the workers as they rolled cigars. The point he wanted to make was that the cigar workers didn't care what the lectors were reading, so long as they were receiving the content and the entertainment thus provided. His larger point was that it will be the same with e-readers-- as long as we get the content, we won't care about the delivery system.

Now after reading about this very issue across the blogosphere and even starting the conversation a bit here, I know that many readers do not feel this way. You don't get the same texture and smell that a paper book has on a Kindle. It just doesn't engage the senses in the same way. Having said that, it's hard to argue with having a ton of free classics that I got from Amazon via their free PC app. So I do agree to some extent that it's the content that I really want, but I also kinda want the book as a thing. He also quoted a recent study that found that 1 in 6 Americans either have an e-reader or plan to purchase one in the next 12 months. I don't know anything else about the study, including how loosely they define an e-reader (would I count, since I read books on my PC?), but if they're anywhere near close... that's huge.

As to books that will never be digitized: Children's picture books, especially the ones with things to feel and move. You can't get that on a Kindle, either. Coffee table books. And here's one for my YA writerly friends: the YA market is currently keeping the physical book market afloat. In other words, keep writing!

I don't really want to ask an e-book question, since I just asked one the other day. So: when's the last time you read aloud to someone? Or had someone read aloud to you?


Anonymous said...

I haven't read aloud to anyone since my daughter was little....and I can't tolerate others reading to me.

....Petty Witter said...

Thanks for an interesting post.

A good question - I often find myself reading out loud to clarify what I'm reading just as I find it helpful to read my posts out loud as I'm typing them. I also sometimes find myself reading something only to find I'm actually reading out loud without realising it.

As for being read to, I'm not a huge fan of reading poetry but enjoy it when my husband reads it to me. As for books, I'll sit with a book all day but don't have the patience to sit listening to a talking book.

Karen Peterson said...

I read aloud to my grandmother. She doesn't understand what I'm saying, but she likes the sound, I think.

I want an eReader for the convenience, but I'll keep buying printed books, too. Gotta have some use for those bookshelves!

Su said...

@Delores: Hmmm. How do you feel about audiobooks?

@Petty: If I'm listening to an audiobook, I have to be doing something else. It's kind of a background thing. I don't mind Chad reading aloud to me, but I'm not wild about reading aloud to him.

@Karen: Hear, hear!