Sunday Book-Thought 135

My bookshelves were more successful with Veronica than my record collection. In those days, paperbacks came in their traditional liveries: orange Penguins for fiction, blue Pelicans for non-fiction. To have more blue than orange on your shelf was proof of seriousness. And overall, I had enough of the right titles: Richard Hoggart, Steven Runciman, Huizinga, Eysenck, Empson… plus Bishop John Robinson’s Honest to God next to my Larry cartoon books. Veronica paid me the compliment of assuming I’d read them all, and didn’t suspect that the most worn titles had been bought second-hand.
– Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (London: Jonathan Cape, 2011), pp. 23-24.

Sunday Book-Thought 133

The whole position of the book as a medium of communication in modern industrial society is being challenged and even conventional ways of producing conventional books may be completely altered by new means of composition and what is now called ‘on-demand publishing’ whereby individual copies of books may only be fabricated as a need for them arises. The importance of technological developments in the media of communication cannot be ignored and the role of the book in modern society undoubtedly will be changed by new technology.
Yet, when one looks around the world and recognises that many countries are still only at an early stage in working towards total literacy, the role of the book becomes even more confusing. Some developing societies, especially in, for example, Africa and Asia, are still moving towards the use of the book, whereas others, especially in Europe and America, are wondering if they are moving beyond it. The ability to read is, of course, so obvious int he use of the book that those of us who live in advanced societies sometimes tend to overlook not only the widespread illiteracy  in many countries of the world but also the relatively recent development of what we like to think of as ‘literature societies’ and the non-use of literacy skills by many people in these societies.
Peter Mann, From Author to Reader: A Social Study of Books (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), pp. 2-3.