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Thread: Do you think books are still popular/will they remain popular?

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Default Do you think books are still popular/will they remain popular?

    I just read this article where Philip Roth said he thinks books will become 'cultish' because people no longer have the attention span to really read novels. I know he's a crotchety old bastard but I hope he's wrong. I love books, I love reading and I would hate to think that everything we read comes on our computers.


    Philip Roth's late run of productivity has long been a source of wonder in the literary world, with his latest novel coming out this week less than a year after the last, and another already complete. But the 76-year-old's own energy is not, according to him at any rate, any reflection of vibrant life in fiction itself. Roth has long been pessimistic about the survival of the novel in a gaudy, short-attention-span culture, but his latest prophesy is one of his bleakest yet, predicting that the form will dwindle to a "cultic" minority enthusiasm within 25 years.

    The author believes that the concentration and focus required to read a novel is becoming less and less prevalent, as potential readers turn instead to computers or to television. "I was being optimistic about 25 years really. I think it's going to be cultic. I think always people will be reading them but it will be a small group of people. Maybe more people than now read Latin poetry, but somewhere in that range," Roth told Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast.

    He said it was "the print that's the problem, it's the book, the object itself". "To read a novel requires a certain amount of concentration, focus, devotion to the reading. If you read a novel in more than two weeks you don't read the novel really. So I think that kind of concentration and focus and attentiveness is hard to come by it's hard to find huge numbers of people, large numbers of people, significant numbers of people, who have those qualities," he said.

    And the advent of e-readers such as the Kindle will make no difference. "The book can't compete with the screen. It couldn't compete [in the] beginning with the movie screen. It couldn't compete with the television screen, and it can't compete with the computer screen," Roth said. "Now we have all those screens, so against all those screens a book couldn't measure up."

    Roth 's new novel, The Humbling, is published later this week (and has already received a scathing review from the Observer's William Skidelsky, who called it "a piece of scandalous frippery").

    Roth told Brown that like The Humbling's hero Simon Axler, an ageing stage actor who has "lost his magic" he worries about running out of ideas. "Routinely when I finish a book, I think 'What will I do? Where will I get an idea?' And a kind of low-level panic sets in. And then eventually something happens," he said. "I think I write and publish as often as I do because I can't bear being without a book to work on ... I don't feel I have this to say or that to say or this story to tell, but I know I want to be occupied with the writing process while I'm living."

    Roth's pessimism about the future of the novel is not a recent moodswing. Talking to the Observer's Robert McCrum in 2001, he said that "I'm not good at finding 'encouraging' features in American culture. I doubt that aesthetic literacy has much of a future here."http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oct/26/philip-roth-novel-minority-cult
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    i hope not. at least not during my lifetime.
    that would seriously suck.
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    I'm a bookaholic too but confess I've just ordered a Kindle so maybe the rot's setting in.
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    Elite Member LaFolie's Avatar
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    I love books, read a lot (42 books last year, not counting comics) and love turning a page. Reading online is so not a sensual experience...
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Too many book lovers out there-of all ages. Too many families reading golden books to little ones who will not forget. Books will always have a place, at least in my family.
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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    I don't see books going out of style. The only thing that will change will be the typical paper books will fade away. Books will become completely electronic, where you can read them off of the Web or download them directly to your computer/phone.

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    I don't see books going out of style. The only thing that will change will be the typical paper books will fade away. Books will become completely electronic, where you can read them off of the Web or download them directly to your computer/phone.
    That's my prediction too. I do hope paper books won't completely disappear though. No superadvanced tenth generation kindle will quite compare with the feel of a real book, especially some of the gorgeous old editions.
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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aella View Post
    That's my prediction too. I do hope paper books won't completely disappear though. No superadvanced tenth generation kindle will quite compare with the feel of a real book, especially some of the gorgeous old editions.
    You'll probably always have people who collect the old classics for their collections, and I'll probably be one of those people. But I think we're going to reach the point where publishers stop printing paper books completely. Because the cost of printing and shipping the books will continue to eat into their profits as the Web continues to gain dominance, which is what's killing newspapers. It'll just be cheaper to do it all electronically.

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Nothing like a good old book when you're soaking in the tub or taking a massive dump. No way I want to take my laptop in there. Maybe a reading device like kindle though. Still it's more 'easy' to take a book places like on a long flight, so you can give it away or whatever, without having to worry about electrical devices.

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Taking a dump Funny but very true, I like the feel of a book, like Aella said

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    Silver Member LucreziaBorgia's Avatar
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    Books aren't going anywhere. People like the tactile experience, and lo-tech reading experience. You can pass down a book or share it with your children to share with their children's children. Electronic files and the methods to deliver them become obsolete. Printed pages don't.

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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    I think books will stay. I'm a huge reader and have zero interest in ever obtaining a kindle or any of its clones.
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    Elite Member Penny Lane's Avatar
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    Count me in as another person who loves a good book... be it one you can pick up off the shelf at a bookstore or library or one that has history.. the faded covers, the smell of the old pages, the creases from years and years of absorbing the words they contain. I love the idea of that... I'd hate to see it replaced by something so impersonal as something digital.

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    Elite Member LaFolie's Avatar
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    Maybe they're going to be burnt, Farhenheit 451 style?
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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFolie View Post
    I love books, read a lot (42 books last year, not counting comics) and love turning a page. Reading online is so not a sensual experience...

    I agree. I love to curl up in bed with a book or, as someone mentioned, bring one into the tub or for a lengthy visit to the loo.
    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    I don't see books going out of style. The only thing that will change will be the typical paper books will fade away. Books will become completely electronic, where you can read them off of the Web or download them directly to your computer/phone.
    I can't imagine reading a book on a computer or phone. My eyes would give out, number one, and plus it's just not the same. Newspapers I can understand since I usually only buy them when I'm traveling or am going to eat alone or similar. Same with magazines.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

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