Sunday Book-Thought 79

We have also moved beyond the book in yet another way, for if by book we mean an object composed of printed pages of alphanumeric text between hard or soft covers, then many works until recently found only in this codex form have indeed moved “beyond” this form. Difficult as it is for those of who professionally work with books, whether as a student, teacher, researcher, or writer, a great many – perhaps most – books do not contain literature, the arts, history, or even the sciences and social sciences. An enormous number of codex publications take the form of railroad and other schedules, regulations, parts and price lists, repair manuals, and the like. Even library catalogs, which in the Bodleian and British Museum still take the form of books, in most libraries long ago metamorphosed into file drawers of written and printed cards and have now increasingly moved into the digital world. All the strengths of electronic text, including adaptability, infinite duplicability, and speed of transport, make these changes ultimately a means of saving time, energy, and other resources, particularly paper.
George P. Landow, ‘Twenty Minutes into the Future, or How Are We Moving Beyond the Book’, in The Future of the Book, ed by Geoffrey Nunberg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 209-237 (pp. 211-212).

Why I Don’t Read Fiction

A few weeks ago a fellow PhD student in the English department asked me what I read when I’m not reading for my doctoral research. I answered that I read mostly non-fiction and that, come to think about it, I couldn’t remember the last fiction book I had finished (a later peek at my ‘Books Read’ list revealed it to be The Hobbit). My colleague looked at me confused, noting that he often found himself lost in fiction that drew him away from the books that he knew he needed to read for his own doctoral research. ‘Why don’t you read fiction?’, he asked. Without thinking before I spoke, I blurted out my truth: ‘Because it doesn’t feel productive.’

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