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Change of pace from the more frequent 'death of print' stories here on LISNews.
This one's about the birth of print; a discussion of the newly published book by Andrew Pettegree, "The Book in the Renaissance" with Tom Scocca of Slate and the Boston Globe.
In the beginning, before there was such a thing as a Gutenberg Bible, Johannes Gutenberg laid out his rows of metal type and brushed them with ink and, using the mechanism that would change the world, produced an ordinary little schoolbook. It was probably an edition of a fourth-century grammar text by Aelius Donatus, some 28 pages long. Only a few fragments of the printed sheets survive, because no one thought the book was worth keeping.
“Now had he kept to that, doing grammars...it probably would all have been well,” said Andrew Pettegree, a professor of modern history at the University of St. Andrews and author of “The Book in the Renaissance,” the story of the birth of print. Instead, Gutenberg was bent on making a grand statement, an edition of Scripture that would cost half as much as a house and would live through the ages. In the end, struggling for capital to support the Bible project, Gutenberg was forced out of his own print shop by his business partner, Johann Fust.
The article continues in a question and answer format here.
Publishing industry consultant Mike Shatzkin has a blog post titled: The printed book’s path to oblivion
Excerpt: It is very hard for me to grasp why anybody would prefer a printed book 30 or 40 years from now. I’m sure by then screen technology will be able to simulate any aspect of the printed book that could possibly be of interest (except, perhaps, for the smell of the paper, ink, and glue, but, then maybe a companion air-wick would do the trick. I wonder if you can use the same aromas for all titles, or whether some customization will be required.)
What I find fascinating is the historical perspective: while still useful, the alphabetical index is hardly exciting anymore. It has been supplanted by full text search (in e-books). There are still reference books (such as dictionaries), but they are being replaced with online tools. Information overload continues to generate many inventions: the search engine (such as Google), the recommender system (as on Amazon.com), and the social networks (such as Twitter). Literally, these tools expand our minds. We become smarter.
From the New York Times:
Publishers and booksellers are in a rush to find more Nordic noir to follow Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, known for the indelible characters of Ms. Salander and the investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. The books have become a publishing phenomenon, selling 6 million copies in the United States and 35 million copies worldwide — nearly four times the population of Sweden. The third and final book in the series, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” was published last month in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf and instantly became the must-read book of the summer.
“The question is, after everybody reads ‘Hornet’s Nest,’ what are they going to do?” said Stan Hynds, a book buyer at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt. “I’ve got this funny feeling that every publisher is going to come out with the next Stieg Larsson.”
Well, maybe not every publisher — but a lot of them. Scandinavian crime fiction has been popular among serious mystery readers for decades, but even best-selling novelists like Henning Mankell, Camilla Lackberg and Jo Nesbo are not yet widely known in the United States.
If there is a formula to the genre, it often includes a cold, stark setting and a grizzled detective figure who consumes too much coffee and junk food. The book covers tend to the bleak and icy, with images of frozen lakes, barren forests and perhaps a foreboding bloodstain.
Blog post about the importance of metadata by publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin.