The End of Borders and the Future of Books
The New Value of Text There is an increasingly pervasive notion that other forms of media are additive to literature, that they somehow improve it. Because, you know, books are just telling stories, right? We are witnessing a profound assault on book publishing and literature, on the text itself—not from ebooks, which publishers are slowly, painfully coming around to after a long resistance, or the internet, which is after all entirely made of text—but from applications, “enhanced” books and reductive notions of literary experience. As I’ve written about before, in the context of advertising, publishers’ reactions to new technologies betray a profound lack of confidence in the text itself. We are being distracted by shiny things. Text lasts. The New Value of Text
Sam Harris on the Future of the Book In the spring of 2011 Greg Mortenson was smoking hot and on a roll. His memoir, Three Cups of Tea—advertised as “the astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his remarkable humanitarian campaign in the Taliban’s backyard”—had spent the previous 50 months on The New York Times paperback, nonfiction bestseller list. The book’s white-knuckled account of the perils and privations he’d overcome to build schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan inspired donors to contribute more than $70 million to his charity, the Central Asia Institute (CAI), and turned Mortenson into an international celebrity. His compassion and courage were extolled by Nicholas Kristof, Thomas Friedman, Christiane Amanpour, and other prominent journalists. For three years running Mortenson was shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize. But on April 17, 2011, 60 Minutes aired a profile of Mortenson that cast him in a different light. Sam Harris on the Future of the Book
2020: All Books Will Be Cross-Platform and Interactive. Future “books” will be bundled with soundtracks, musical leitmotifs, 3-D graphics, and streaming video. They’ll be enhanced with social bookmarking, online dating, and alerts from geo-networking apps whenever someone in your locality purchases the same book as you— anything so you don’t have to actually read the thing. Authors will do their own marketing, the reader will be responsible for distribution, the wisdom of crowds will take care of the editing, and the invisible hand of the market will perform the actual writing (if any). McSweeney's Internet Tendency: The Future of Books. McSweeney's Internet Tendency: The Future of Books.