All things being equal, I'd prefer to have some romance in my life. But I have a really hard time with people who insist on gushing about books. Eulogizing the publishing industry reminds me of something Matthew Yglesias wrote recently:
You've heard a lot over the past 10 to 15 years about the crisis of American journalism, but it's actually been a crisis for American journalists.
Seth Godin's recent blog post ("An End of Books," 2013.08.15) strikes much the tone I would want to use regarding book publishing (emphasis is mine):
None of these changes, by themselves, are enough to kill a venerable information delivery and cultural touchstone like the book. But all of them together? I’m writing this on a train filled with educated, upper income suburban commuters of all genders and ethnicities (book buyers, until recently). I can see 40 people at a glance, and 34 are using electronic devices, two are asleep and exactly one person is reading a traditional book.
Yes, we're entering a new golden age for books, one with more books and ebooks being written and read today than ever before. No, books won’t be completely eliminated, just as vinyl records are still around (a new vinyl store is opening in my little town). But please don’t hold your breath for any element of the treasured ecosystem to return in force.
Is it traitorous to my tribe to write these words? I'm not arguing that we should push the ecosystem out the door, but I am encouraging us to not spend too much time trying to save it. First, it's a losing battle, but more important, we have bigger opportunities right in front of us.
I fear that our cultural and corporate connections to books as a delivery system may blind us to the alternatives.
I think this is a great perspective to have.