Sunday, 4 January 2009

modest proposals

So, here we are in 2009 when gawd knows what will happen to the world, but we can all have a guess.

On the bookfuture front, I reckon that the e-Reader will not yet thrive in credit crushed Britain, but has played a vital role already in convincing the book buying public that reading off screens isn't the end of civilisation as we know it. Trad readers loved the Sony Reader in its moleskine-like leatherette cover, but soon complained about the lack of a back light - having complained about back-lit screen reading till then. The iTouch or one of the new netbook, mini-laptops or even a tablet sized iPhoneything will be what we'll mostly be taking to bed with us to read downloaded books on, which must surely come down in price if reading habits are going to be shifted substantially.

All of which looks good for the multimedia experimentation we're interested in at if:book London where our task is to find some and stimulate more winning examples of new work which exploits new media rather than replicates text in digital form.

I'm still optimistic about the potential for selling such stuff and associated souvenirs of reading on line, though don't anticipate fortunes being made inthecurrentclimate.

And I'm also excited about how the network can be used to help us all through this recession, by providing free or cheap information and imagination to the cash strapped, and keeping channels of communication open to those otherwise disenfranchised by unemployment and the general pressures of scraping a living.

I'd like to float the idea of a designated day, working title Glad Day, where all are encouraged to spend their time in as pleasurable a way as possible while spending no more money than they usually would. It's the antidote to Christmas when we buy others overpriced things they don't quite want. On Glad Day you would cook your favourite food, re-read your favourite novel, re-watch a treasured DVD,stay in bed if that's what you like doing or take a hike with good friends if that's more to your taste. No guilt, no greed, just an emphasis on pleasing yourself, and a celebration also of how the web can help us to find and exchange cheap means to fulfil ourselves.

It ought to take place at the end of Jan when experts tell us the country is at its most depressed. But any otherwise depressing day would do.


**

Thanks to Sarah Weinman, another Twitterer who passes on a stream of interesting book related articles via tweets and her blog http://www.sarahweinman.com, for pointing out this modest proposal by Julian Gough to remove toxic books from the US reading chain.

"We must implement these new programs with a strategy that allows us to adapt to changing circumstances, and attract the private inspiration which has always made our cultural system so resilient and innovative.

"In these difficult times, leadership — and sacrifice — must start at the top. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and I are agreed it is imperative we take the bad books out of the system, and slowly work our way through these toxic assets. Yes, it will be painful; it will be difficult; but at times like this, the government must step in and perform its duty, as reader of last resort."

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