Prior to the invention of the reader, one had to walk up to War and Peace and read it.
I rarely quote my husband, but heck, I rarely admit I have one.
As a chief music critic of The New York Times, he wrote this: “Acoustics are to music what bookbinding and typeface are to Faulkner. A beautiful cover is a delight to hold in the hand. The right page design is easy on the eyes. But if our minds are doing their work, Faulkner’s voice will sound the same in the roughest, smallest and most unwelcoming old paperback as it does in the most luxurious special edition.
It depends on how well we read.”
Yup, my husband Bernard Holland expressed my sentiments about books in 2003, unbeknownst to me, and here I am, some ten years plus later, using machines to prove him true: It’s not your delivery device, it’s your mind. It just never occurred to me to roll over twelve years ago and say “Where do you think this book thing is going?”
The war of off-set versus digital seems to be abating, (publishing was heartbroken when their cover model, Woody Allen, signed with amazon Studios) There is an “Indie” versus “big house” mentality rocking along. I have my eyes (and money) on the Indies as publishing will follow along the same trajectory as music, television and film. Why wouldn’t they?
But at the bottom of all of this is the endless debate over who says what is “worth” reading, who is the gatekeeper, Tom Wolfe’s beloved cultural elite. Now diffuse, it’s getting a little less smoky in the room. Interesting voices are blowing in from all kinds of cracks and crannies. That can only mean greater creativity, more ideas, courage, change.
And no cracked screen or muddy wrinkled page can every change what this sentence does to me: “That was how Arcadio and Amaranta came to speak the Guajiro language before Spanish, and they learned to drink lizard broth and eat spider eggs without Urula’s knowing it, for she was too busy with a promising business in candy animals.”
-Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hunderd Years of Solitude – click to buy
and do not forget Memories of His Meloncholy Whores or Love in the Time of Cholera