Saturday, April 19, 2008

So Many Books

Gabriel Zaid, a Mexican poet and essayist, wrote a wonderful book a few years ago entitled So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance. There are a number of books out there about the state of the book industry or the future of the printed word, but this one is more elegant and witty than any other I have read. And Zaid understands the realities of the business without succumbing to either pessimism or (thank goodness) business-speak.

Here are a few quotes from the book:

Today it is easier to acquire treasures that to give them the time they deserve.

Confronted with the choice between having time and having things, we've chosen to have things.

The desire to follow a conversation you don't understand is a healthy sign, not an indication of a lack of preparation. Discipline is good in service of desire, not in place of desire. Without desire, there is no living culture.

Reading is difficult, it takes time away from the pursuit of a career, and it doesn't gain anyone points except in lists of works cited.... Reading is useless: it is a vice, pure pleasure.

No experts in technological forecasting are predicting the end of fire or the wheel or the alphabet... yet there are prophets who proclaim the death of the book.... as a technological judgment, [this prophecy] doesn't withstand the slightest scrutiny.

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