I’ve been saving up dozens and dozens of links to follow when I had the time to do so, and now that I do have a little bit of time, I’m not so sure I should have saved the links. Between the endless stories of bookstore closings and page cuts at newspapers’ book-review sections, and the general laments about declining readership . . . phew. A sample:
John Sutherland asks, “why is newspaper-hosted lit-crit on its last legs?” (“So farewell then, lit-crit,” The Guardian‘s theblogbooks) [I'll take answer #2. KG]
Mark Morford asks, “What happened to all the readers?” (“Page by page, a good book can rewire your brain,” San Francisco Chronicle) [Maybe they're resting.]
Nicholas Carr asks, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (Atlantic Monthly) [Answer: yes, but beer makes us stupid, too, and it is also delicious.]
Mark Bauerlein asks, “How dumb are we?” (“‘The Dumbest Generation,’ by Mark Bauerlein,” by Lee Drutman) [Um . . . can you repeat the question?]
Sure, times are tough, and ignoring bad news in order to focus on a few bright spots would be irresponsible, but I’d love it if more people were focusing on possible solutions to the problems, or pointing out the upside to the downside, if only to help stave off the feeling that the death of reading (and, by inference, all rational thought) is an inevitability. Faced with an inevitability, most people will simply give up and watch Dancing with the Stars. My own outlook is guardedly optimistic, although I don’t know how a book reviewer-slash-author could keep himself above ground without a certain sense of optimism, however ill-founded. I still love books and reading, and so do my colleagues, and so do my friends.
So, some good news, and good takes on bad news:
NPR says “We’re building up our book coverage because book content really works for our audience” (“NPR.org expands book coverage,” by Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly)
Discussing Lee Abrams’ crazy memo about the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Mark Sarvas says, “there’s something worth discussing here.” (“Rethinking the L.A. Times Book Review,” The Elegant Variation)
David Crystal says that the long-term impact of text-messaging “is not a disaster.” (“2b or not 2b?” The Guardian)
Hey, it’s something.
(Apologies to all the blogs and newsletters where I found these links for not tipping my hat. I lost track. You know who you are.)